Amazon Google CNET Smart Home $79 • Aug 30 • iRobot Roomba S9 Plus vs. Neato Botvac D7 Connected By now, there are connected products for nearly every corner of your smart home. Security, lighting, cooking, cleaning and entertainment are all voice-enabled, if you’re willing to spend the money and swap out your dumb systems. Smart plumbing isn’t any different. There’s a steady stream of products that aim to smarten your water supply from all angles, but which ones are worth it? Are they all luxurious add-ons or ways to truly improve your home’s efficiency and convenience? It might depend on the category. Let’s take a look at where smart plumbing products might show up in your home and what they offer. KitchenSmart water in the kitchen is centered around the kitchen sink. Kohler and Delta both offer smart faucets that connect to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice commands. Kohler’s Sensate Faucet comes with voice commands and Delta’s VoiceIQ Module smartens up compatible Touch2O faucets.You can do things like ask your faucet to dispense a specific amount of water or turn the faucet on or off. With both models, you’ll need an always-on power supply and you’ll need to put the handle in the “On” position and then turn off the water with motion sensing in order to enable voice commands. Both models are expensive, too. The Kohler Sensate faucet with voice commands works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Chris Monroe/CNET Once you’ve installed your faucet and connected it to your voice assistant, there are some handy functions. You can ask for 12 ounces of water, ask your voice assistant to turn the faucet on or in Delta’s case, ask it to heat up your water.These faucets aren’t perfect, though. You’ll need to use a clunky command like “Hey, Google, ask Kohler to dispense 8 ounces of water,” and the custom commands for things like “fill spaghetti pot” can be tricky to get just right. However, if you’re already in the market for a high-end Delta or Kohler faucet, getting a model with these smarts won’t add much, if any, extra cost. Phyn’s new Smart Water Assistant attaches to the water lines beneath your sink. Phyn There are other options for monitoring water in your kitchen. Phyn’s latest water monitor, the $299 Phyn Smart Water Assistant, attaches to the hot/cold water lines under your sink and doesn’t require professional installation. It can let you know if you pipes are beginning to freeze, monitor your home’s water pressure and show your water consumption all through the Phyn app on your mobile device. We haven’t tested this system yet, but it seems to toe the line between leak detector and whole-home water monitor. BathroomSmartening the water in your bathroom can take several forms. Let’s start with shower systems. A smart shower could mean an entire system or just a connected shower head. Prices range from less than $100 to several thousands.The U by Moen Smart Shower system has a $1,225 MSRP and can create profiles for individuals in your household with specifics for temperature. It can warm up your shower, then pause the water flow until you’re ready to step inside. That’s one way to potentially reduce your water consumption, but installation does require a professional and that high price tag doesn’t include any special shower heads or premium hardware, only the thermostatic digital shower valve and control panel. Chris Monroe/CNET Kohler has a similar DTV+ shower system that works with the Kohler Konnect app. You can create presets for sound, water, steam and special lighting if you have that installed. Smart commands with Kohler’s shower also work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.Smart showers like these are largely luxurious and not focused on water savings. While there are some economical aspects, your’e paying mostly for the convenience of getting your shower up and running at the sound of your voice. French company Smart and Blue’s Hydrao range of showerheads are kitted out with LED lights that change color, from green to blue to purple to red, based on how long you’ve been showering.Of course, there are more affordable ways to smarten your shower, like Kickstarter’s Livin shower head, a gadget that monitors water consumption and allows you to press a button that pauses water flow.That one hasn’t hit retail yet, but you can buy models under $70 from WaterHawk and DreamSpa with integrated LEDs that change colors corresponding to temperature. The Hydrao Smart Shower System is powered entirely by the water flowing through it and lights up with different colors to indicate how much water you’ve used. These easy-to-install, affordable alternatives are a great way to get into smart showering. Kohler’s Numi Smart toilet works with the Kohler Konnect app. Tyler Lizenby/CNET Then, there are toilets. Yes, smart toilets are a thing. Not only does Kohler make a smart toilet, but it’s made multiple versions. The newest, $9,000 mega toilet can play music, heat the seat, heat the floor below it, put on a light show, raise and lower the lid and of course, flush automatically. It can save presets for up to six people for custom experiences. We’ve had the Numi Smart Toilet in the CNET Smart Home for a while, and though it can do a lot, I’ve never felt like I’ve had a $9,000 experience. Numi isn’t doing anything to save you water beyond the 1.28-gallons-per-flush rate either, so if water-saving tech is your goal, this toilet isn’t going to do much. Leak detectorsAmong all the smart water products out there, leak detectors are the most affordable and most portable. Put them anywhere you’re concerned about leaks. They’re great for basements, underneath kitchen or bathroom sinks or behind toilets. These battery-powered, small devices connect to a mobile app through a smart home hub or Wi-Fi to warn you if water touches the sensor. You’ll get a push notifications to straight your phone. You’ve got a lot of options when it comes to these handy water watchers. SmartThings, iHome, Honeywell, Fibaro and Roost all make a version of a water sensor. These are great for monitoring places that are prone to water, but they can’t tell you much about what’s happening inside your pipes. For a more thorough look at the temperatures, pressures and flow rates in your home’s water supply, you’ll need a whole-home system. Whole-home water monitoring systemsThere are systems that can monitor your entire home’s water supply. Some can even shut off the water in a catastrophic failure event. These typically install at your water meter or you home’s main water supply and require a Wi-Fi connection and app.Some can be DIY, but most at least recommend a professional consultation. With these systems in place, you can see all kinds of stats from your daily, weekly and monthly consumption to water pressure, temperature and flow rate. Moen recently acquired Flo, a whole-home startup that does just that. You can install Flo yourself, but it’s recommended that a Flo professional comes out to your home. You’ll need to be pretty comfortable working with your own water pipes if you want to install this $500 system yourself. Tyler Lizenby/CNET Once Flo is installed, it can monitor the water pressure and water flow throughout your home. It can also remotely shut off your water if something goes wrong. Of course, you’ll get notifications on everything Flo is doing as well as the option to perform health tests on your system. A similar system, Flume, straps around your home’s existing water meter and connects via a bridge to your Wi-Fi. Unlike Flo, it is intended to be self-installed. Once it’s set up, you’ll get information on water consumption, pressure and any problems it detects within your home. That system costs $200, but it can’t shut off your water in an emergency like Flo can. For most people, these pricey systems are on the overkill side, but if you live in an area prone to freezing pipes, or you’re trying to keep an eye on a plumbing system that isn’t reliable, whole-home systems could save you from a lot of damage. When it comes to smart water, these are probably the most practical and data-driven devices. Is any of this stuff worth it? Monitoring your water isn’t the most luxurious of smart home capabilities. It’s not the cool, connected thing you’ll show your friends when they come over. However, if you have consistent leak worries in your home or you’re frequently traveling, having at least a leak detector can offer a lot of peace of mind. Smart water value really depends on the category. Sensors, especially the more affordable and portable options are a worthy return on a relatively small investment. However, a $9,000 toilet or $1,200 shower system? Those luxury goods, and they’re obviously not for everyone. The concept behind smart kitchen faucets is intriguing and useful in some cases, but it hasn’t been perfected and is still pricey.That doesn’t mean the average consumer will be locked out of smart water forever. This corner of smart home tech continues to expand and does seem to be working toward real innovation and usefulness. It has the potential to increase our homes’ efficiency and solve problems before they start, and for that reason, it’s worth keeping an eye on. Tags Best Buy reading • Smart showers, smart toilets and smart sinks: Should you put your plumbing online? 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Atiqul IslamIn the face of persistent complaints that drivers on the country’s roads are often drug-addled, Dhaka North City Corporation mayor Atiqul Islam has said dope tests for drivers is set to be introduced.”The process of introducing the test is underway,” he said after attending a meeting with a group of students leading the movement for safe roads at the DNCC office in Gulshan.DNCC organised the meeting with the group of students from several universities in Dhaka and representatives of some concerned authorities including Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC), Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) and Dhaka Metropolitan Police.The DNCC organised the programme following a Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP) student’s death in a recent road accident in the city.During the conversation, the students placed some demands including setting up zebra crossings instead of foot-over bridges, making BRTA free from brokers and corruption, installing of digital traffic signals, stopping the plying of buses on contractual basis, and half-fare for students.Giving consent to those demands, the mayor said, “The city corporation has decided to set up push buttons flashlights on zebra crossings, construct footbridges, passenger shades.”The DNCC mayor requested BRTA to undertake all necessary steps to launch an automated system to check vehicles fitness. He also requested private institutions to come forward for giving driving trainings for the drivers.The DNCC mayor said they had started constructing a model road from Malibagh to Kuril Biswa Road.
Share Michael Stravato for The Texas TribuneDemocratic candidate for governor Andrew White is interviewed in his home in Houston on Friday, April 20, 2018.Several years ago, Andrew White was at his wits’ end.Fresh off selling a business he started from scratch, he began experiencing severe migraines accompanied by dizziness, ultimately going deaf in his left ear. The mysterious illness went unresolved for a year and a half, and depression set in.“I thought I was done,” White said. “I thought my ability to be a productive person was over.”After cycling through numerous doctors and potential remedies to no avail, he stumbled upon a simple solution from a neuroscientist online: adding a lot of salt and water to his diet, and cutting back on carbs. Miraculously, it worked, and White suddenly felt he had a new lease on life.That health crisis marked the start of an extended period of upheaval for White. Last fall, he experienced the sudden death of his father, then witnessed up close the devastation that Hurricane Harvey wrought on his native Houston. Around the same time, he was increasingly noticing Texas Democrats were struggling to recruit a serious candidate for his dad’s most famous role: governor.All those loose threads pushed White into contemplating another dramatic turn in his life, this one of his own making.Since the fall, White has emerged as both a likely and an unlikely candidate — the former due to his pedigree and the latter due to his own aversion to political life, whose indignities he had seen take down his father. For years, White had built a business career of his own, all but removed from the political spotlight.Those days are long over. White is in the thick of a spirited runoff against Lupe Valdez, the former Dallas County sheriff, to take on Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, a lavishly funded and popular incumbent. With less than two weeks until the election, White also is on the precipice of a moment he has long sought in the race: a debate with Valdez, who is looking to recover from a rocky stretch of her campaign. Yet White also has something to prove: that Texas Democrats can trust a self-described “moderate” to fight for them in the David-and-Goliath battle that awaits in the fall.“I just feel like progress gets made in the middle,” White said. “The fact that I’m moderate isn’t because I think a moderate wins in Texas — which I do think. The fact that I’m a moderate is because I’m a moderate.”“That’s the thanks he got”White, 45, insists he “never wanted to be in politics for a second,” even as he grew up surrounded by it in the Governor’s Mansion in the 1980s. White, then in his early teens, was awed watching luminaries shuttle through the house to see his father — John Glenn one day, Prince Charles the other. What enthralled White the most, though, was quietly listening in from the periphery as his dad and his advisers huddled at the mansion, plotting strategy.Still, the younger White remained uninterested in one day making a political life of his own, taking note of the toll it took on his father. That feeling was only exacerbated when his dad lost re-election in 1986, in part due to an intense backlash to the “no pass, no play” rule he championed that required public school students to pass all their classes to participate in sports.At the time, White saw his dad’s defeat as undeserved punishment for doing the right thing.“That’s the thanks that he got,” White said, some bitterness still in his voice.. “That sounds kind of petty and small, but when you’re a 12-year-old, you see that happen, you’re like, ‘Gosh, that just doesn’t seem fair.’”The loss brought an abrupt return to reality for White, whose father had been in Texas government and politics virtually his whole life. Election nights had become something of a family ritual.Courtesy of Andrew WhiteAndrew White, the son of former Gov. Mark White, is pictured at the Texas Governor’s Mansion in 1979, waiting for astronaut John Glenn’s signature.Leaving behind the mansion, White’s family returned to Houston, where he graduated from Lamar High School in 1991. Determined to escape his father’s shadow, he set his sights far outside Texas.“I wanted to get out of state,” White said, “and go somewhere where no one knew who my father was.”Building a business careerWhite’s mission to pave his own path led him to the University of Virginia, where he graduated in three years with a major in religious studies. Along the way, he joined the Army ROTC and a local volunteer fire department — and largely avoided politics.White supplemented his religious studies courses with a smattering of economics classes. A recruiter on the UVA campus ultimately led him to a financial analyst job in New York. He found it exciting but exhausting, and after two years on the job, he returned home to Texas.White became involved in several different business ventures — not all successful — and got married and started a family. Along the way, he got an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.He eventually became president of Home Solutions, a fire and water damage restoration company that sent him traveling across the country to help rebuild homes after disasters. In 2005, he sold his house and put everything he had into starting his own home-warranty business.“It was huge,” White recalled. “With two kids on the ground and a mortgage and walking away from a good job, it took a lot of thought and a lot of prayer and just like, ‘OK, here we go.’”The business, Allied Home Warranty, and its sister company, Lone Star Repair, grew fast, eventually topping 200,000 clients. Houston energy giant NRG bought them in 2012 for an undisclosed price.Bryan Bledsoe, an Army veteran fresh out of college, recalled applying for a general manager position with Allied Home Warranty on Monster.com one night. Within 10 minutes, White responded inviting him to an interview.Recounting White’s leadership style, Bledsoe said he was most struck by how gracious White was, “always giving the credit to somebody else” despite how much White personally had on the line in the company.As the two worked together, Bledsoe said, White repeatedly swore off running for office one day. Bledsoe knew better.“I would tease him from time to time and say, ‘Yeah, OK, governor,’” Bledsoe recalled. “I just knew that was in him because he liked to help people.”A pivotal periodBy 2013, White was about to enter a new period of life — one that would include several trying events culminating in his decision to run for governor. After selling Allied Home Warranty on the last day of 2012, White agreed to stay on for a few years and assist with the transition. But that plan was disrupted by the mysterious illness, which he now reflects on as a “mid-life physical trial,” a gut check after spending two decades grinding out a business career. Yet only a few years passed before White was tested again — this time by the unexpected death of his father, in August following a heart attack. White had to give the eulogy at the funeral, a somewhat daunting responsibility given his then-dislike of public speaking. But he was well-received, and afterward, people came up and complimented him — and suggested he may be the next politician in the family. “That certainly got the thought process going,” White said.Among the luminaries who attended the funeral was Abbott, whose wife, Cecilia, invited the White family over to the Governor’s Mansion the day after the service. It was the first time White had been back since he was a kid. He described it as “memory lane downpour.” In the private quarter, he spotted the initials that he had carved in one of the rooms as a kid.White, still reeling from his father’s death, took note of the whole experience — the funeral well-wishers, the mansion visit — but still was not seriously thinking about following in his father’s footsteps.Then Harvey hit.For five days, White and his neighbors commandeered his small fishing boat to make rescues throughout Houston, dragging dozens of people out of the floodwaters. They were not always successful — two people they rescued later died, said White, who recalled getting home those nights and struggling to sleep, the harrowing images of the day still flashing through his head.Thinking about the leadership failures that led to the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history stirred something in White.“He never mentioned his direct interest in political office, but it was clear that he was having some very impactful reflection during that time we were in the boat,” said David Magdol, a longtime friend of White who accompanied him for most of those days. To top it all off, White was increasingly hearing about the state party’s struggles to recruit a major candidate for governor.“My dad would’ve been embarrassed,” White said, recalling how his father had sought to recruit people to run in the final months of his life. “I was like, Dammit, you know, I’ll do this.”Gearing up to runAs White began to explore a run for governor, he got plenty of advice from his dad’s old friends and advisers. But he also reached out to others, including several former Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Tony Sanchez “treated me like his son,” White said. Chris Bell told him about how running for governor would make him a better person. Bill White emphasized the importance of data.Another Democrat, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, gave White the same advice White’s dad had provided O’Rourke about his current bid for U.S. Senate: It’s a 254-county race.The biggest reality check in those days came during White’s calls to some of the biggest Democratic donors in the state. He ended up “reliving 2014 over the phone with them,” he said, and they were “all still thinking 2014 thoughts,” reluctant to open up their wallets wide again after giving generously to Wendy Davis, only for her to lose to Abbott in a landslide. Why would White be different?Tom Dunning, a Dallas businessman and White family friend, said his first reaction was a question: “Are you crazy?” But as Dunning heard out White, Dunning began to see a candidate he could get behind, regardless of his closeness with the elder Whites. “I thought, you know, he has it,” said Dunning, who eventually wrote White a $5,000 check. “He not only is answering the questions, he is being creative, he is willing to challenge what is going on in Austin and wants to get it back to the way it used to be, where you could work closely with those folks in different parties.”Not every call White made during that period went well — and one in particular still haunts him. After speaking with White one day, Aimee Boone Cunningham, a major Democratic donor active in Planned Parenthood, began warning associates that White was “anti-choice” — a view amplified days later by Davis in a Facebook post.White, who disputes Cunningham’s characterization of the call, would later clarify that while he is “personally, deeply pro-life,” he respects a woman’s right to an abortion and would veto any legislation that restricts it as governor. The answer remains insufficient to some Democrats.“We don’t need somebody who is going to be anything less than a champion for women’s reproductive rights,” said Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, which has endorsed Valdez. Also as White was making the rounds, Valdez had started to emerge as a potential candidate. He dialed up some people he knew in Dallas and asked for their opinions of her. His conclusion: “I need to stay in this race.”Off and runningOn a rainy Thursday morning in the lobby of a high-rise office building in Houston, White announced his campaign for governor. Perhaps most notably, his speech included a line evocative of his decades-long quest to escape his father’s shadow: “I’m proud to be Mark White’s son, but I’m not running because I’m his son. I’m running because we need more leaders like Mark White.”The opening weeks of the race were sleepy. White drew some questions for having cut a $2,500 check to the Kentucky Republican Party in 2005 — a peculiar decision that he chalked up to his work as a “business owner.” But things began picking up in February as White snagged some notable endorsements, including from all the major newspaper editorial boards. Their seals of approval had always been important to his father.White also received support from less likely sources, such as the Houston GLBT Caucus. That one almost brought him to tears, he recalled, noting the obvious: He was a straight white man running against a barrier-breaking lesbian Latina sheriff, and he did not expect to earn such a group’s support. “But I care about these issues, and I wanted them to know that,” he said.It was around that time that a portrait of Valdez began to solidify: unprepared, ill-informed, untested. But White was anywhere but in the clear from his political demons, still fielding questions about his abortion stance. And by the time the primary kicked into high gear, he was getting it from both sides, too.Members of his church, Christ the King Presbyterian Church in Houston, were increasingly uneasy about his public comments on gay marriage and abortion, both opposed by the congregation. By the end of January, he stepped down as an elder in the church. In White’s telling, his campaign was creating controversy in the church, and the “first rule of being an elder is don’t create controversy.”White was nonetheless making progress in the primary, raising more money than any other candidate, including Valdez. He saw the need for even more, though, and loaned himself $1 million in late January, which helped allow him to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV advertising in his hometown.“It was and still is a huge risk,” White said of the loan.Heading into Primary Day, White felt confident as he visited a series of polling sites with his wife. He stopped by Houston’s Mark White Elementary School — and quickly regretted it as he was overcome with emotion.A runoff resetOn March 6, White finished with 27 percent of the vote to Valdez’s 43 percent. His TV advertising in the Houston area paid off: He carried Harris County by a wide margin in the nine-way race, getting 52 percent there. But Valdez won most other parts of the state, auguring what many viewed as a tough path ahead for White in the second round.White doesn’t buy it. He believed the runoff is a “completely different race,” and he’s confident that the less-informed voters who came out for the primary won’t return for the runoff. White kicked off the overtime period by issuing a debate challenge to Valdez, whose campaign expressed openness to it but didn’t make any commitments. He continued to beat that drum for weeks, as he rolled out jobs and education plans to limited fanfare, hoping to contrast with Valdez’s vague platform. In White’s mind, a turning point came on April 29. During a town hall hosted by Jolt, a group of young Latino activists, Valdez gave a lackluster answer when asked about her record on immigration as sheriff, and Jolt endorsed White a few hours later. That led to an apology from Valdez for her answer, and days later, she agreed to debate White.The flurry of events — over the course of just a week — “blew me away,” White said.“It took an 18-year-old who was brave enough to stand up on the stage and ask the former sheriff of Dallas County a question about her record, and she couldn’t answer that,” White said. “This is why I believe she’s been avoiding a debate for so long.”Yet White did not escape unscathed from that same event. He faced questions about a company he owned, Geovox Security, which sells technology that has been used at the border to detect people hiding in vehicles. Last week, White announced he would divest from it.It’s one of several issues that is bound to come up at Friday’s debate. For White, it is his highest-profile opportunity yet to show he is Democrats’ best choice for November — and a far cry from the years he spent resisting a political career. It’s an encouraging turn of events to White supporters like state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, who was friends with White’s father and remains friends with his mother. Public service, Coleman said, is “ingrained in the DNA of the family.”“I hope he wins this primary and goes on to beat Abbott,” Coleman said of the younger White, “but what I hope the most is that he stays involved.”Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin, Planned Parenthood and Aimee Boone Cunningham have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here