I’m never mad at technology designed to help me save time, make things more convenient, or add a little luxury in my life. So I’m all about a high-tech bathroom. Whether I’m trying to shave precious minutes off my morning routine, or unwinding at the end of the day, there are so many new products and fixtures that can bring your bathroom into the future. If you’re looking for honest-to-goodness problem solvers, or just plan wow factor, read on.
While I’m not a big proponent of multi-tasking on the whole, I do love squeezing in a bit of morning news while I’m brushing, washing or showering. Listening to a little NPR on Kohler’s Moxie shower head has become a morning ritual: It has an embedded bluetooth speaker inside, and and the outside nozzle has pressure enough for a great shower. My kids love them too, and are usually broadcasting something loud and upbeat to get their day started. Grohe and Phillips have partnered to create a similar product called Aquatunes, which you could sit on a shower bench or clip to your shower rail. If you want to watch the news instead of listen to it, two cool products make that possible in unusual spots: The Electric Mirror looks just like a regular bathroom mirror, but reveals a hidden TV when it’s on, and the Seura Hydra waterproof TV can be built right into your shower wall.
Watching TV or rocking out in the shower could potentially extend my morning routine, but I don’t have time for lingering. Plus, I live in California where water is in short supply. This battery-operated Water Pebble helps me do my part to conserve water: It’s an unassuming “pebble” that you place near your drain that can sense how much water has rushed by it. It will flash green to give you the go-ahead, yellow to let you know you’re halfway done, and red to encourage you to get out of the shower. Estimated water savings for a family of four? Something in the neighborhood of 12,700 gallons of water. Not too shabby.
It’s easy to make fun of a Toto Toilet until you experience one. Then, you just might join what is a growing cult of people obsessed with their thrones. These toilets have heated seats, air deodorizer, automatic flush, washouts that will wash and dry your behind (the need for toilet paper is virtually eliminated, and you’ll never have another “you left the seat up” fight because this one automatically closes (and softly!) when you depart. I mean… that’s one heck of a toilet. All that luxury and automation has a price tag to match, but if you’re looking for a toilet upgrade that doesn’t break the bank, Kohler’s Touchless Toilet Flush Kit will give your existing toilet a no-touch flush feature. A sensor is mounted inside the tank (it runs on AA batteries) and to flush you simply wave your hand over it, greatly reducing the ick factor of any kid’s bathroom (or your own). Another problem-solving toilet upgrade? The Kohler Nightlight toilet seat, that helps you locate your toilet at night without turning off the lights. Also might help little kids aim a bit better while sleepy... enough said.
My least favorite part of the morning is getting on the scale, but that doesn’t mean that the experience can’t be improved (or at least distract me from the number I’m reading) with some high tech features. Those of you enjoying the “quantified self” movement will love how the Fitbit Aria Scale syncs to information it gleans from your fitness tracker, connecting your fitness, food and weight, in one complete picture. Use it to measure weight, body mass index, lean mass and body fat, then watch it wirelessly sync to your phone’s app, which tracks your progress in pretty charts. Withings Body Analyzer adds next-level features like a heart rate monitor, air quality sensor, and will even show you the weather to help you plan the day.
Lastly, some issues that are imperative to a positive morning bathroom experience— namely, some privacy, good lighting, and warm towels. Smart Glass windows solve the privacy factor and add a bit of high-tech wow to your bathroom at the same time: Flip a switch, and your clear glass windows can "dim" or become totally opaque, thanks to some Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal (PDLC) sandwiched between two layers of glass. They also make a film that you can apply to your existing windows, so you won't have to renovate to get this effect. SimpleHuman's Sensor Mirror provides assistance when I need it most— getting my face ready for the day. First of all, it lights up as I approach— a nice touch— and it's light has been tuned to mimic natural sunlight, so I know what I'll look like when I head outside. The LEDs will last for decades, it has no cords, and one USB charge lasts up to 5 weeks. And that 5x magnification? Well, let's just say it's helpful, though seeing my face that close up is never pleasant. And lastly, when I emerge from a bath at the end of the day, I want my towels toasty; it's a small thing, but it's everything. Lately, I've been seeing the most unlikely of solutions: A warming drawer in the bathroom that keeps towels as warm as it does pancakes, and can be built into your cabinetry for a custom look. Now if I could just squeeze my duvet in there, I wouldn't have any of that cold bed nonsense to contend with, and my bathroom would get high marks for helping me end my day even more fabulously.
Some of these solutions are over-the-top luxe, but many can make a simple bathroom just a bit more helpful in the mornings, or soothing at night.