WRITER | SARAH SPOHN
If you were born in the ‘60s or ‘70s, you’re probably familiar with “The Jetsons,” the TV cartoon series featuring a family living in the year 2062. Getting up in the morning was a snap! One pass with a motion sensor and George, Jane, Judy, and Elroy were showered, scrubbed, and dressed.
We no longer need to wonder what it would be like to live like a Jetson because today’s technological advancements in the bathroom are putting it within reach.
What is it about such technology that appeals to us? Some are drawn to advances that improve safety, hygiene, and wellness. Others seek the environmental benefits. After all, design is at its best when it rewards us with a setting that meets our needs!
Some consumers are interested in aging in place. Technological advances can provide safety for those with compromised immune systems or physical restrictions and deliver the controls they need to live independent lives. For example, we are seeing trends toward motion sensors, infrared tap technology, and voice-activated systems – even motion-sensing or digitally controlled toilet and bidet systems. Familiar names like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home are teaming up with Kohler to partner in today’s bathroom technology. Through the Kohler Konnect app, these voice assistants can control the temperature of the water, the brightness of a mirror, and the length of your shower. We even see tubs that are being equipped with automated sensors to empty when you exit.
Kohler’s Numi 2.0 toilet is also raising eyebrows. It provides users with a heated toilet seat, foot warmer, nightlight, and an automated lid opening and closing system. It even has Bluetooth capabilities to play music from your phone or store your favorite playlist from an SD card.
LED lighting advancements have led to some exciting hygiene-related features, as well. The Vital Vio’s Ellumi is a white light that not only illuminates your bathroom surface, it also provides continuous 24-hour disinfection protection against bacteria! There are UV towel dryers that will kill the bacteria on your towel while drying them. Refrigerated cabinets that provide for medication management as well as your favorite beverage while you’re getting ready are popular, too. These advancements enable consumers to decrease the risk of contracting harmful bacteria, and those with disabilities can live an easier lifestyle.
And what about wellness? Neuroscience shows that all the things that awaken our senses — art, scents, music, design, and light — have a similarly positive effect at the cellular level. The bathroom can be a sacred space where people take refuge after a long, stressful day, and smart technology can help create an environment that nurtures our sense of peace and reflection. We now have humancentric lighting that mimics natural sunlight as well as showers and high-tech bathtubs featuring chromatherapy. This scientific process uses colored lights to adjust to the vibrations of the body, improving both mental and physical health. Colors are completely adjustable for the mood you want to create. Try the orange light for creativity or green for balance.
Many high-tech showers and tubs now incorporate hydrotherapy. This holistic approach enables different levels of steam, water pressure, and temperature control for relief from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Other products include air baths that provide a full-body massage. TOTO makes a zero-gravity tub with an adjustable headrest. Its shape simulates a gravity-free bathing position that takes the pressure off limbs and joints. And how about a warming drawer for towels at the end of your hydrotherapy?
Technological advancements have been made for our entertainment as well. Whether it’s singing in the shower or playing music, manufacturers have got it covered. There are showerheads, toilets, and mirrors with Bluetooth capabilities. Séura® has taken it even a little further with the smart mirror. This waterproof TV has technology similar to that of a tablet: catch up on the news, your emails, or even download the Netflix app and never leave the bathroom!
Environmentally speaking, this new technology can automatically fill a bathtub to a precise depth and water temperature, conserving water usage and other utilities. The same app will control your shower temperature as well and put water usage on a timer.
Even if you don’t have a Rosie the Robot, there are so many benefits to designing a bathroom using the technology available today!