Devices, rejoice! Amazon has come to liberate you from your forgetful human overlords.
The online retailer announced Tuesday that the first devices compatible with its Dash Replenishment program, which lets gadgets and appliances reorder their own supplies, can be set up to make purchases on Amazon.
The Seattle-based company is hoping that's just the start, saying it ended its limited testing phase for Dash Replenishment and is now making the program available for device makers big and small. That means many more Internet-connected devices could soon be able to reorder their supplies, without having to wait for a person to do it for them.
People, meanwhile, could gain from the new program by never running out of printer ink again and avoiding pesky errands to buy more soap or coffee. It's part of a broader trend to smarten up devices so they'll take care of some of the menial tasks so you don't have to.
"This is not shopping people love," said Daniel Rausch, an Amazon Devices director. "No one wakes up in the morning and says, 'Man, I want to buy laundry detergent today.' "
For Amazon, the program's benefits could be even more significant. Teaching coffee makers and dog food bowls to buy directly from Amazon locks in repeat purchases to its website, similar to a subscription service, and keeps those dollars away from competitors. Some device makers could also gain from Dash Replenishment, helping prevent consumers from switching to generic versions of their products. For instance, Brother printers can only be set up to buy Brother-branded ink cartridges.
Since unveiling Dash Replenishment early last year, Amazon has received thousands of inquiries about the program, from "the quotidian to the zany," Rausch said. Some of the zanier ideas included a bottomless candy jar and a machine that uses Keurig-style pods to make tortillas.
For now, Dash Replenishment will start out modestly. Certain models of Brother printers can now be set up to purchase their own ink when they come close to running dry. Later this month, the Gmate Smart blood glucose meter can buy itself new lancets and testing strips, and General Electric's "smart dispense" washer will be able to get itself more detergent.
The Dash Replenishment program uses the same technology that's in Amazon's Dash buttons, which are small, Internet-connected buttons people can press to reorder things like paper towels or Ziploc bags. Rausch declined to offer specifics on how many Dash buttons have shipped or how much they're driving in sales, but said, "Buttons that are used as often as weekly and customers love the experience."
There's no word yet from Amazon on when dozens of additional Dash Replenishment-enabled products will go on sale. Other devices will include a Brita water pitcher that reorders filters, a Purell dispenser that reorders hand sanitizer and an August smart door lock that reorders its batteries.
It might not be long before even a lowly bathtub drain will be able to order itself Drano (from Amazon, of course).