The Livin Shower could significantly lower the barrier to entry of the smart bathroom. Like competing smart showers from Moen and Kohler, the Livin offers app controls and voice controls via Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant. Turn on your shower with a voice command, and it'll warm up the water for you and pause when it's ready. But unlike its expensive competitors, you can install the Livin yourself over your existing shower faucet.
The Livin is a retrofit smart shower from a startup of the same name launching a Kickstarter campaign on Tuesday. The product certainly sounds impressive, as it theoretically offers the same feature set as Moen and Kohler, but it'll be a much more realistic purchase if you simply want to upgrade your shower with smarts and don't want to hire a plumber. With Moen and Kohler's showers, you're pretty much signing up for a remodel.
The Livin Shower still won't be cheap. The Kickstarter price is $350, with a few cheaper models available for early birds. After Kickstarter, you'll be able to preorder it for a lofty $700, though the company hasn't officially set its retail price yet. The shower will only ship to the US and Canada for now.
Supposedly the shower is compatible with most single-handle trims. Check out the compatibility page for more details. The valve functions as the main piece of the Livin and installs in place of your temp control handle. The company claims you'll be able to install it with the tools you have lying around in your house within 15 minutes.
Once you install the Livin, you can set up profiles for up to 10 family members. You can customize temperature preferences for each profile, or you can just hop in and start showering, manually adjusting the temp as you go. Once you're done, the app will give a report on your shower with water usage and the like and you can assign that shower to a profile. The Livin will then learn your preferences over time.
In addition to controlling the shower, the valve uses Bluetooth to sync with your phone or a smart speaker. You'll be able to use the buttons on the valve to play and control your music while you get clean. The Livin will also offer a few temperature presets such as one that helps you wake up by gradually cooling the water a bit as you near the end of your shower.
The Livin's valve controls the temp by communicating with a piece called the Linker, which is installed on the pipe with your shower head. The Livin package includes a shower head if you don't want to use your own. The Linker tracks the temp and flow of the water and communicates that info to the valve so it can make adjustments as necessary. The Livin is powered by a rechargeable battery.
Moen and Kohler both control your shower's temp with a digital valve installed on your pipes, so I'm curious to see if the Livin will be able to approach the accuracy of a full replacement smart shower. Livin is still priced as a bit of an investment, so hopefully it'll work well enough to pay off.
As always, please note that CNET's reporting on crowdfunding campaigns is not an endorsement of the project or its creators. Before contributing to any campaign, read the crowdfunding site's policies -- in this case, Kickstarter -- to find out your rights (and refund policies, or the lack thereof) before and after a campaign ends.
Even if it doesn't control your temp as precisely as Moen and Kohler's, Livin could be a good purchase if it reliably gets the temp in the ballpark. The U by Moen Smart Shower costs between $1,160 and $2,200 and that doesn't include paying for installation or the cost of materials if you're remodeling. The Livin retrofit smart shower isn't cheap, but it'll be a much more realistic upgrade for most.