Flushed with success? How toilet technology is changing

31 March 2020

We’ve come a long way since the days of the chamber pot and the cry of “garde à l’eau!” as people chucked the contents on to the streets. (Did you know it is this phrase that led to the English word ‘loo’?)

Over the years, toilets have become rather more sophisticated – from Sir John Harrington, the godson of Elizabeth I, who invented the flushable water closet in the late 1500s, to Alexander Cummings’ revolutionary S-trap, patented in 1775 – there have long been efforts to improve bathroom technology.

It was the 20th century that saw bathroom technology develop rapidly, with the advent of flushable valves, close-coupled toilets and automatic flushing systems among other introductions.

However, the toilet of the 21st century is yet another concept and we are seeing the rise of the smart toilet. Not surprisingly, the Japanese are at the forefront of these high-tech developments.

Smart toilet? Well, yes. Seat heating, coloured lighting, automatic lid openers and slow-closing lids, built-in deodorisers (no need for a spray of VIPoo, with that particular feature), and self-cleaning features such as using UV light, which interacts with the bowl to electrolyse and then sanitise the water. Even privvies that have music playing while you’re on the throne and those that can be controlled by an app.

These are fun – OK, not absolutely necessary – advancements that we’re likely to see only in the homes of celebs and multi-millionaires who have thousands of pounds to spend on a super-lav.

Other technologies, however, such as remote-controlled bidet with adjustable washing and flushing modes, and adjustable air dryers, are proving to be hugely helpful for the disabled and the elderly. We can imagine a time when these will become mainstream.

But controlling a toilet from an app and having mood music and tunes playing? Not for us, thanks!

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