Part 2: What’s new and notable in toilets today? (Click here to read part 1)
The annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show) often spotlights a variety of unusual tech gadgets and things we didn’t know we needed. This year, we found it interesting that all the talk was about… toilets.
Japanese manufacturers stumbled on an international phenomenon over the last few years: Americans who traveled to other countries saw the newest tech upgrades in toilets (both public and residences’), and wanted these upgrades in their own homes once they returned.
The TOTO Washlet model – a combination bidet and toilet – sold more than 30 million units around the world by January 2011. By 2015, they topped 40 million in sales, as global travel and business became more prevalent, and more people were exposed to this alternate way to keep clean.
In particular, the TOTO Neorest NX2 Dual Flush Intelligent Toilet – the hot model featured this year at CES – is in demand. This self-cleaning (yes, you read that right) commode automatically opens for you when you approach, offers a heated seat, and has a remote control so you can manage how clean and dry your backside gets. Not to mention the air deodorizer – should you need that. And of course, it has a night light, for those midnight excursions.
The price tag? A mere $17,300. [An x-ray view of the Neorest. Image courtesy of TOTO.com]
Smart toilets have been around a while
While bidets of various types have been used widely around the world for a couple of centuries, the adoption of the bidet by Western culture has been slow. At first, the “smart toilets” that were developed were marketed in the U.S. to older people, or people with mobility challenges.
The addition of new tech to the toilets by 2017 increased their popularity and acceptance among the younger traveling set. You can see this in the marketing-speak: some are described as “sleek” and as having “warming, antimicrobial, deodorizing, and… quiet-closing options.”
Not sure I want my toilet to be that smart, actually …
What else could you add on to those features, you ask? Oh, lots of things!
— Glow-in-the-dark or LED seats – with color choices
— Dual-flush feature, one for solid waste vs. liquid
— New flushing engineering that cleans the bowl better, but uses even less water than before
— Ceramic coatings with nanotechnology incorporated means that hardly anything sticks to the bowl
— Bluetooth to link to your smart phone or speaker
— Varying heights for maximum comfort – from 14″-19″
— New colors, like Biscuit, Almond, Ice Gray, Sandbar, Cashmere, and Thunder Grey
— Concealed and skirted exteriors that are easier to clean
Three main technology improvements from the big manufacturers
TOTO, American Standard, and Kohler are who we spoke to at the KBIS (Kitchen and Bath Industry) show in January, and each of them gave us quite a tour of their newest options. Each of them basically offers their own version of:
— More powerful flushing
— Ceramic glazes/coatings inside the bowl, to more easily move water and other material down the pipes
— Other technology that keeps the bowl cleaner in some way
For example, TOTO is pushing their new line of wall-hung toilets, for their modern styling and space savings. The wall-hung versions also incorporate their “Dual-Max Tornado Flush™,” which is a strong jetted stream of water that clears the entire bowl. Other TOTO toilets offer a simpler “3D Tornado Flush,” a system of three nozzles that “power away waste.”
[Many of the newest features available on Toto toilets. Image courtesy of Toto.com.]
TOTO also has a new glaze they call CEFIONTECT™, which they say makes for easier bowl cleaning. It’s part of their “super hydrophilicity” system, which is a fancy way to say: the water beads up on the surface of the bowl, before the bowl is used, then oxygen in the air helps to decompose any waste quickly, and washes all of it away, fast.
To have the cleanest bowl possible, you should elect for one of the most advanced versions of TOTO toilets, which incorporates a UV light inside the lid, and an eWater+® system that “mists the bowl with electrolyzed water, reducing the need for harsh cleaning chemicals.”
[Some of Kohler’s toilet tech options. Image courtesy of US.Kohler.com.]
Kohler has a slight twist on the easy-cleaning feature, with a compartment inside the tank that holds a standard toilet-bowl cleaning tablet. However, it only dispenses what’s really needed each time – “a consistent amount … with every flush”, and they say these tablets “can last more than a year.”
Kohler’s flushing technology is called Revolution 360®, but is similar to TOTO in that it is a “forceful swirling motion to keep the bowl cleaner.” This is accomplished with their AquaPiston® canister, that pushes water out of the tank and into the bowl vigorously, “increasing the power and effectiveness of the flush.”
Kohler also offers their own bowl coating, called CleanCoat™ technology, which “inhibits the growth of water scale and mineral stains.”
American Standard Tech
American Standard offers a VorMax Flush Technology that they describe as delivering “a powerful scrubbing action… a jet of water [that] scrubs the entire bowl and removes everything in its path.”
The bowl coating tech at American Standard is called an EverClean® Surface, an additive that helps the glaze act like a mirrored surface. This specialized surface does not stop at the bowl area in American Standard products. It’s also in the rim, and they say the coating does the scrubbing for you. The glaze additive continues into the connective piping as well, to “protect pipes from mold, mildew, algae and fungus.” Some American Standard toilets also boast a feature called the Clean Curve Rim, which eliminates those crevices that are harder to keep clean.
The upscale versions of American Standard toilets offer their ActiClean® Self-Cleaning option, which requires a standard cleaning cartridge, which is set into the top of the tank. It purports to “clean and remove stains with just one press of a button.”
The most impressive item on this list, however, is from the Champion line at American Standard, that says you may “never have to plunge again.” This series is touted as being “virtually clog-free… and can move a 70% larger mass than the industry standard.” The company demonstrates this via the following image:
[Image courtesy of AmericanStandard-us.com]
So where do we “go” from here?
All of this toilet tech has spurred inventors around the world. Just a couple of months ago, Bill Gates opened the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing, which featured entrepreneurial ideas like waterless toilets, composting toilets with feces-eating worms, and other bathroom technology based on the mechanics of the espresso machine (scientists say “pressure, liquid, and heat lessons… could be applicable to toilets”). We could say, then, that when it comes to new bathroom tech, it pays to start in the kitchen?
[Beijing Toilet Expo. Image courtesy of The Conversation.com]
Regardless of the genesis of these new ideas, it’s refreshing to know that there are companies and individuals who continue to have our back (sides) in mind, and want to help keep them as clean as possible.
Do you have a bathroom that needs an update? Give the designers at DreamMaker a call today (734-669-4000) to talk toilets and more, or visit our website to see some of the lovely improvements we’ve made... in bathrooms of all sizes.