Advertisement

Bathrooms are getting smarter, for better or worse

Bathrooms are getting smarter, for better or worse
From Engadget - January 13, 2018

The futuristic bathroom I just described is not that far away from becoming reality. In fact, at CES 2018, Kohler unveiled a new addition to its toilets and shower devices that let you ask Amazon's Alexa to assist you. Moen also added Alexa support to its smart shower line, promising Siri compatibility is on its way. Smart mirrors that tell you your daily agenda while assessing your complexion have already been available for months too.

It's a little strange to tell someone to flush your toilet for you -- it feels oddly intimate, if not simply lazy. But there are benefits to having such an option. Germophobes can avoid touching surfaces potentially covered in bacteria, while those who have limited use of their hands due to injury or disability have a convenient alternative. Of course, there are other hands-free methods for flushing, like motion sensors or foot flushes. So having a conversation with your toilet just feels unnecessary.

That's why Kohler is less interested in you talking to your bath fixtures than it is in taking advantage of Alexa's tendrils snaking throughout your home. For example, you could ask an Echo in your kitchen to run a bath while you finish the dishes. The new Perfect Fill Tub would then automatically turn the faucet on, adjust the temperature to your preference and turn off when the water was just right. When you are washing up the dishes after dinner, you can tell Alexa to get your bath ready so you do not have to actually go turn on the tap and monitor the water temperature yourself.

Moen, on the other hand, provides Alexa as a complement to its existing U by Moen connected bathroom system, which is mostly controlled by an in-shower panel. Using the voice assistant in the shower would be tricky, since the sound of water spraying all over could potentially confuse Alexa.

Smart home companies believe there's plenty of room for more technology in the toilet. Abbie Byrom, director of global partnerships at Samsung SmartThings, said there is potential for the bathroom to be a way to glean insights into a person's health. Future toilets could tell if a woman is pregnant, not only saving her a possibly embarrassing run to the pharmacy but also alerting the more oblivious to their situation.

But the idea of a toilet that analyzes and potentially collects information on your waste feels even more invasive than a voice-controlled flush. Although it's not meant to replace a visit to your doctor, there are still myriad concerns around privacy and accuracy that make it unlikely that we will see a poop-analyzing toilet anytime soon.

Advertisement

Continue reading at Engadget »