Imagine going to the toilet in the morning and as you sit down comfortably for your daily ablutions, your phone pings. “Your diet seems unbalanced. The recommended recipe is: ‘Salmon/Chicken Avocado Salad.” No, the message is not from your nutritionist, but from your toilet. Yes, that’s right, your toilet doubles up as a health monitoring device. Welcome to the future where your toilet does the talking.
Japan-based Toto presented the Wellness Toilet concept at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, giving us a glimpse into the bathroom of the future. Using “multiple cutting-edge sensing technologies”, each time a person sits on the toilet, it will track and analyse a person’s “mental and physical status”, says the company. This data will then be sent to an app to provide users with recommendations. Of course, this is still a prototype and probably years away from commercial manufacturing.
However, bathrooms today are pretty hi-tech. “After kitchens, if there’s an area big on technological advancements, it is the bathroom space. Countries such as Japan and the US were already using hi-tech toilets but recently, we have seen this trend pick up in our home ground too,” says Payal Bagzai, Head of Design at Livspace, a home interiors company.
From sensor- or touch-operated taps and shower systems to intelligent toilet seats with automated seat covers that open and close pre-and post-usage to automated spritzer wands, there is enough tech in the bathroom to get a geek excited.
Take, for instance, Kohler’s Veil intelligent toilet. Priced at Rs 6.4 lakh, it comes with a control pad for cleansing features—you can have a pulsating wash that massages your bottom or a spiral spray for cleansing a broader area, and of course warm air dries your bottom and the toilet—all at the touch of a button. Not only does the toilet flush automatically, but the seat cover also opens and closes, sensing your distance. The nozzle is sterilised after each use and sanitised with a UV light. Oh! And there is also an automatic deodoriser that keeps your bathroom fresh.
India’s sanitaryware market is growing significantly. Valued at $1.06 billion in 2020, it is expected to reach $1.65 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 6.7 per cent over the forecast period 2021–2027.
Says Salil Sadanandan, President-Kohler Brand South Asia, Middle East & Sub-Saharan Africa, “The pandemic has led to people spending more time at home. While we have seen people spend money on doing up their home office, they are also spending a lot more money on their bathrooms.” Sadanandan says that in spite of the high-ticket prices of products such as the intelligent toilet, there is great demand. “We are more than doubling our sales every year in the intelligent toilet category.”
Globally, Kohler has also introduced a fully-connected bathroom that is voice activated. Walk in and say, “Shower on, 35 degrees for 15 minutes” and you are all set. You could also determine how many litres of water you want to use and the shower will shut down accordingly. While a prototype is on display at the Kohler experience centre in Mumbai, the product hasn’t come to India yet as the company is trying to get the data ecosystem in place.
Sadanandan says that because of social media, there is increased expenditure on home improvement. “There is a great desire for self-expression among our consumers, particularly women. And that is making a difference in how we design bathrooms. There is a desire to show how great your house actually looks.” Keeping that in mind, Kohler has launched Quila, a range of limited-edition handcrafted washbasins with artwork by Jai Prakash, a Padma Shri artist specialising in miniature paintings. Priced at Rs 5 lakh a piece, there are only 100 such individually numbered washbasins.
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall…who is the foggiest of them all,” is something most of us identify with as we step out of a hot shower only to find the vanity mirror fogged up. Wiping it clean is almost a ritual. Now if only you could clean it with the wave of a hand. While the Roca Prisma Comfort model doesn’t do that, it comes close. For a little over `1 lakh, you can switch the LED lighting above and below with a single wave of your hand. The mirror is fitted with a series of demister pads behind the glass that quickly remove any condensation. So, basically your mirror never fogs up.
Sustainability is also becoming important for consumers. “Designers today are more aware of and encouraging sustainable solutions by way of technology. Whether it’s the use of energy-efficient lighting or cooling systems or water-saving taps or flushing systems for residential and commercial spaces, home automation has become big too,” says Bagzai of Livspace.
GROHE, for instance, has faucets where the temperature is displayed so you don’t waste water, waiting for it to be just the right temperature. The faucets come with infrared sensors to switch from standard water flow to water-saving mode. Denmark-based Flow Loop has launched a showering system that recycles the water. Priced at €3,000, the shower can be installed in existing shower spaces. “You decide if you want to recycle the water by stepping on our patented drain cover. By stepping on it again, it switches off,” says Troels Grene, Founder, Flow Loop. Grene hopes to bring the shower to India soon.
With a focus on wellness, bathrooms are also turning into mini spas. From jacuzzis in your bathtub to steam and sauna in your shower cubicle, there is no end to the level of comfort and luxury that you can enjoy in your very own haven. Little wonder, Archimedes had his ‘Eureka!’ moment in the bath. Who knows, you may just come up with the next big idea sitting on the intelligent toilet.
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