The smart home is spilling a lot of ink in home and lifestyle blogs and magazines. Technology has evolved so far that it's now living within our walls, in our refrigerators and garage doors, in our security systems and even our ovens.
But what about the bathroom? It seems like there's not much place for high tech there. After all, the basic things we do there don't really need tech advancement.
The bathroom is actually where there is the most potential to improve with technology, especially in saving water and making the space more hygienic. Here are some technological advancements that you might want to consider for your next remodel... or just dream about in your basic bath.
Until not long ago, I thought that the highest level of tech for faucets was an infrared sensor---the kind they have in mall and restaurant bathrooms. But not anymore.
Aside from the infrared sensor (which is practical and cleaner than spreading your germs all over the taps, of course), companies such as GROHE have come up with electronic timers that you can set for tasks like brushing your teeth.
Basically, the tap will run for a few seconds while you wet your brush. Then it will shut down for the amount of time that you decide, and resume so you can rinse your brush and your mouth. If you have trouble brushing your teeth for the recommended 3 minutes, the faucet timer can help you with that.
Faucet technology may seem simple (turning the water on and off is pretty much all you can do), but it will have a big impact on your water use. Less wasted water means a more sustainable home.
Can toilets gain from technology? Of course!
Technology installed in toilets can do a lot of things, like save water, keep your seat warm, move the lid with a motion sensor, stop the need for paper with automatic water spritzing, and clean itself.
The automatic water spritzing toilet (also known as a bidet) should be the first thing that enters North America, if you ask me. We'll save a ton of paper and keep our hands cleaner by not having to... touch our business. The high-tech versions have sensors to know when to clean your bum, and when to clean your hands, so you don't have to touch any buttons.
Heated seats are great if you happen to live somewhere cold. All you need to do is replace the seat with a warming version, or to add a warming unit to your lid that warms the seat while closed. Toastie Tush ($50) is a pretty good buy if you want to try to out.
Motion sensors can do a lot for toilets. Automatic flushing is the typical use, but you can also have an automatic toilet lid that lifts up and goes down depending on whether someone is approaching, sitting or coming off the toilet. No more fighting about men leaving the seat up at night!
And if you really have some money to burn (they come off at $6400), you can buy a Kholer Numi toilet, which pretty much has everything above, and more. Self-cleaning, foot-warming, dual-flush, with programmable LED lighting and integrated bidet, is very much the most luxurious toilet you'll ever own.
At that price, it better make me dinner too...
Baths aren't just baths anymore. They're filled with technological advancements that make bath time more relaxing and efficient.
Today's high-tech bathtubs can have a chromatherapy function, which uses colored lights to enhance your mood. The lights are embedded in the tub itself, and can be changed depending on the effect you need. Require extra relaxation? Use turquoise or purple.
Need to stimulate your creativity? Yellow and orange will work great. Green brings balance, and white clarifies and cleanses.
Electronically controlled water temperature is also more and more common for free-standing tubs. This way, your bath water is of a uniform temperature that you can sit in right away, instead of having to heat it up or wait for it to cool down a little.
Last but not least, you don't need to buy a hot tub for spa-like air jets anymore. You can get it right in your bathroom with the latest air baths. The air jets are controlled electronically and provide different levels of sensation, from a light whirlpool to deep massage. Prices begin at about $2500 for alcove baths; free-standing tubs are more expensive.
All of these tech advancements can also be used in the shower. Walk-in showers may need a different system, but the idea is the same: control chromatherapy, water temperature and pressure, music and television, air jets and more through an electronic panel.
Bathroom tech luxuries
The high-tech bathroom isn't limited to actual toilet fixtures and hardware. You can add items to make your time in there more pleasant and/or productive.
If you enjoy a cool glass of bubbly wine with your bath, you can install a small cooler next to your tub for easy access to your favorite drinkable bubbles, while being massaged in your hydratherapy bath.
Do you like binging on Netflix but afraid to drop your tablet in the water? Technicians can have a television installed in your wall for long, relaxing baths catching up with House of Cards or Daredevil. In your morning shower, you can catch up on the news too!
Imagine walking in the bathroom and seeing the lights turn on without any cue on your part. As you walk towards the toilet, the seat lifts automatically. Washing your hands is easy with an automatic sensor under the tap; it turns on and turns off without you needing to touch anything.
Taking a bath is a wonderful adventure: since you're preparing for a date with your partner, you decide to use the red chromatherapy light to put you in the mood. Soft romantic music plays at the touch of a button. A few minutes of hydratherapy massage relaxes your muscles, sore from a day at work.
As you step out, the bath empties automatically and the lights turn on at just the right level for you to do your makeup.
This sounds like a dream bathroom to me!