When we talk about the toilet of the future it’s sort of hard to think about where it might go next. After all, the toilet is an object that one could think has already been perfected and we’re really only looking at its aesthetic qualities these days. We’d be wrong by thinking that, of course, as there’s always some slight way to improve on something. There will always be people who come along and try to make it better, although a lot of people do fail in that task. So, when we hear people talking about the future of the toilet we tread towards it with some trepidation, as ‘improving’ it may just end up breaking a design that’s been standard for a long time. But that doesn’t put people off, as we’re about to find out.
Last year, plumbing company Dyno-Rod challenged designers to come up with a new design for the domestic toilet. They wanted the designers to “challenge the concept of the toilet as we know it” and create a toilet that benefits both our health and that of the environment. The winner was the Wellbeing toilet prototype, which was designed by three industrial design graduates from the University of the Arts London Central Saint Martins College.
I have to admit that it looks like a pretty attractive toilet – as attractive as toilets can look anyway! However, you may be wondering about its unique shape. Although many of us sit on the toilet here in the Western world, elsewhere it’s not done like that. In fact, a vast majority of the world’s population actually go to the loo on a squat toilet, and there’s a good reason for that. Evidence points to squatting being healthier for us than sitting on a toilet, and that’s because the human body is designed to squat while defecating. For more on this you should take a look at the Squatty Potty’s website (a product we’ve covered before) that uses diagrams to explain how the squat is better for us.
So, on the Wellbeing toilet you’d raise your knees up above your hips instead of sitting like you normally would. However, it also packs in some other cool features that make sense for the age of technology we now live in. The toilet would have biometric sensors equipped, which could analyse your urine and faeces. There are now so many ways to track your health and wellbeing – such as apps or wearable technology – that it’s unsurprising that this form of tracking is now making its way to the toilet. Why would you want to analyse your bodily waste? The designers say it will look for biomarkers that point to pregnancy or nutritional deficiencies, as well as other illnesses. It all sounds a bit Star Trek, and if a toilet can tell you’re pregnant then who knows where it will go next?
Oddly enough it’s not the first toilet that has the whole shtick of looking after your health. A Japanese toilet by Lixil Corp. called the Satis can be controlled from your smartphone, and part of the accompanying app’s features – amongst setting the water temperature (for the spray) and streaming music to the toilet – will actually track your toilet-going habits to help you monitor your health. Environmentally wise it will also keep statistics on how many times toilet is used and flushed, so you can work out just where all your water is going.
Although Japan tends to be at the forefront of futuristic toilet technology, companies on the other side of the world don’t want to feel left out. That’s why Kohler launched the Numi toilet, although a price tag of £3,900 might put off anyone except the hardcore toilet enthusiast. Instead of being controlled via your smartphone though, this model has a touch-screen remote that lets you cycle through preferences to give you the ultimate comfortable experience.
If you’re wondering just what you can pack into a toilet that needs a touchpad to control, let’s take a look;
- Integrated air dryer
- Multiple spray patterns from a self-cleaning wand (wizard not included)
- Configurable water pressure and temperature
- Heated toilet seats and floor-level vents
- Integrated FM radio and MP3 player inputs
- Dynamic lights that cycle through colours (including a Day of the week Mode)
- Deodorizer to rid the bathroom of any lingering smells
Phew! That’s a lot to pack into a toilet, but when you’re paying that price you’d expect something along those lines (or at the very least a gold plated verison!). As we’ve seen with HD TV’s, the price of these should come down in the future as everyone jumps in the boat too. But do we really need it? I leave that question up to you.
It’s not all about the latest technology though, as some toilets are taking an environmental approach. The Loowatt uses a biodegradable lining instead of water to flush, which can then be safely disposed of. This is ideal for those areas of the world that don’t have access to adequate plumbing systems, and it may even be useful in more advanced countries as water becomes ever more scarce due to climate change and huge populations needing to use it. Take a look at our previous post about it to learn more, and you should also take a look at our recent post on the Peepoo Toilet that has a similar concept to the Loowatt.
So, the future of toilets seems bright, at least from a technological and environmental angle. You may not think that the toilet needs improving, but it really depends on where you are in the world and what you have access to. As I mentioned earlier; everything can be improved – but is every ‘improvement’ a good one?
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