Amazon's Smart Soap Dispenser keeps the CDC and Alexa happy

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Amazon wants to make sure your hands are clean, with a new Alexa-connected Smart Soap Dispenser proving that there's really no room where the assistant can't follow you. The new gadget, quietly added to Amazon's virtual shelves today, doesn't have a speaker or microphone itself, but it does help you meet the CDC's guidelines for how long you're scrubbing your filthy fingers.

For that, there's a ring of white LEDs on the top of the dispenser. They light up progressively as you lather your hands, until you've reached the 20 seconds that the US Centers for Disease Control recommends as a minimum for cleanliness.

If you've got an Amazon Alexa speaker – whether an Echo, an Echo Show smart display, or a third-party speaker that supports the assistant tech – you can connect that wirelessly with the Smart Soap Dispenser. Then, as you wash your hands, Alexa will crack jokes, play songs, and do other things to keep you entertained. You can have the dispenser trigger a custom Alexa Routine.

As for the dispenser itself, that has a few other smart features. Designed for use with liquid soap, it adjusts the amount spat out of the nozzle depending on how low your fingers are positioned. There are three different amounts supported, and the lower your hand, the more soap you get. Tapping the button on the top pauses the countdown.

A rechargeable battery inside lasts up to three months, Amazon says, with a MicroUSB USB cable to top it up. The dispenser itself – bar the cable – is made of 39-percent post-consumer recycled plastics, and more than 99-percent of the packaging is made from wood fiber-based materials that Amazon says are either recycled or sourced from responsibly-managed forests.

We've seen a number of ways to get us to take more care with hand-washing during the pandemic. Apple added a hand-washing detection system to the Apple Watch with watchOS 7 back in June 2020, for example. That can spot when you're washing your hands and give you a 20 second countdown.

Unexpectedly, the Smart Soap Dispenser isn't part of Amazon's Day 1 program. That's been the incubator for strange and unusual products, kicking off with things like an Alexa-powered tiny printer, and more recently with customized Diane von Furstenberg Echo Dots. Only Day 1 products that receive enough preorders actually make it to production, but Amazon seems to have decided from the get-go that washing our hands properly is sufficient motivation to green light this new gadget.

Preorders of the Amazon Smart Soap Dispenser are open now, priced at $54.99. It'll ship from August 4.