Simplehuman Sensor Can with Voice Recognition 2nd Generation REVIEW | Mac Sources

6 min readAug 26, 2019


Simplehuman Sensor Can with Voice Recognition 2nd Generation


Trash can simplifies kitchen work.

A few years ago, I started the process of inserting home automation into our house. It started with smart lighting and gradually evolved into incorporating some of the more basic devices like soap dispensers as a way of making living more efficient. Last year, I encountered an eye-opening device at CES 2018 — the Sensor Can from Simplehuman. While this might seem like such a simple concept, the truth is for someone like me — someone who lives with OCD — the ability to lift a trash can lid with a simple voice command was life-saver for me. Dealing with the trash can in our kitchen is the biggest hassle in the world to me. I hate having to struggle to open the lid when I have food waste in my hands. It’s much easier to be able to go over to the can and say, “Open can,” and have the lid open so that I can make a deposit.

This year, Simplehuman has released a 2nd generation model of the Sensor Can that not only open on command, but it can also close on command, too. I was delighted to be able to test it out and compare it to the first generation model.


The 2nd Gen Sensor Can is a 58L stainless steel rectangular trash can that features both a motion sensor and a microphone for voice commands. The can is smart enough to adapt to your surroundings and be able to detect when the motion is your hand and not something else. The can has a liner pocket for storing spare can liners and the liner rim lifts up for easy access to be able to change liners when needed. The stainless steel finish is protected by a nano-silver clear coat so that fingerprints and germs don’t adhere to it. The Sensor Can is also ADA compliant and uses a powerful, but nearly silent motor that operates at 52dBs. The Sensor Can is available in two versions — a single compartment or the dual compartment can for separating waste from recyclables.

The voice commands are detected by three microphones that triangulate sound specifically for voice recognition. The microphones are powered by Vesper, which makes piezoelectric microphones and has been named an Innovation Honoree by the Consumer Technology Association two years in a row (2018 and 2019). Vesper’s piezoelectric MEMS microphones are designed to withstand real-world use in connected devices, such as contact with water, oil, beer, dust and particle contaminants, making them perfectly suited for the kitchen. According to Simplehuman CEO and Founder Frank Yang, “Vesper’s microphones provide the best low-power solution for our sensor cans, while increasing the accuracy of the voice recognition sensor. This effortless way to control the can further increases efficiency in the kitchen.”

The Sensor Can is triggered by three commands — “Open Can,” “Stay Open,” and “Close Can.”


Simplehuman does a really nice job with their product packaging. It’s visually appealing — even for a trash can. It features an image of the product on it and shows that it’s voice operated by including a speech bubble with the words, “Open can,” on it. There is no assembly required with the Sensor Can. You simply lift it out of this packaging, install a trash liner, and provide a power source (AA batteries or connect the power cord to an outlet). That’s it. The battery option does work well, but I opted to connect the trash can to a wall outlet so that dying batteries aren’t an issue. I would love to see this trash can eventually develop to having a rechargeable battery.

Once power was connected, I waved my hand over the sensor and the can opened. Next, I said, “Open can,” and the lid opened. It stayed open for about 15 seconds and then closed. This is the same basic operation that the first generation Sensor Can has. What separates the two generations is the addition of the two new commands “Stay Open” and “Close Can”. These were very welcome additions to me because there were plenty of times that the can closed on us before we were ready. The “Stay Open” command works for approximately 10 minutes. If you don’t say “Close Can” within that time, the lid will automatically close. So, after the initial test I did, I did a second test to see how well the added commands worked. I said, “Open Can,” quickly followed by, “Stay Open,” and the lid stayed open. After a few minutes, I said, “Close Can,” and the lid closed.

So, how does the second generation fare against the first generation Sensor Can? Well, I would say very well. The first generation can was starting to have a few quirks with its operation. For example, in the evening, the lid would open and close without any motion or voice command. We were never able to figure out what was causing it because no one was in the kitchen with the can and all the lights were off. The second generation can has been a welcome upgrade because it seems to hear commands better than the first generation and it hasn’t been randomly opening and closing.

As far as how well the microphones work, the Sensor Can hasn’t had any trouble hearing my commands, but it did have some issues registering Robyn’s voice. She found that if she raised her voice to slightly above normal talking level, but certainly not yelling, the can could hear her. The pre-programmed commands work well for us and the only time the can has trouble with room noise is when the clothing washer and dryer are going. They are in a closet right next to the trash can so that noise level overpowers everything. Other than that, the trash can doesn’t have trouble hearing over regular ambient noise.


Home automation has changed the way our house works. Simplehuman provides tools for efficient living and their Sensor Can really does do a great job of making life just a little bit easier in our household. Simplehuman has even created an app so that activities like ordering liners is simple and efficient. They are also sold on Amazon so if you have an Alexa device in your house, you can easily say, “Alexa, order more liners,” and it’s taken care of. The Sensor Can is an investment (MSRP $199 at the time of this review), but one that is worth it in my opinion.

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Originally published at on August 26, 2019.




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