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Technology invades even that most private of spaces – the toilet

Innovation within

Loo to the Future

Our father always told us, “If you want to see the future of toilet technology, go to Japan.” And you don’t even have to leave the airport – Tokyo’s Narita features Gallery Toto, a fully-functioning exhibit exploring the future of bathrooms. Despite American’s completely understandable taboo around discussing the bathroom, new tech is slowly disrupting even that most private of spaces.

Know It All

Forget Fitbit – if you really want to monitor your health, we’ve got just the devices for you. Chinese startup Xiaopu Future has developed a smart toilet that monitors blood pressure and also performs urinalysis. And the Telehealth Toilet Sensor is a floor mat that tracks usage, offering early diagnosis of urological disorders.

For the Clean Freaks

Germaphobes rejoice – the Associated Press reports that Japanese-style toilets – requiring neither paper nor the use of one’s hands – are invading the American market. Even Google’s Silicon Valley campus is equipped with high-tech Toto seats. But if you’re not ready to invest in a leading-edge loo, the infomercial-ready Loodini should suffice.

Going Green

According to the EPA, the average family of four uses about 100 gallons of water every day just flushing the toilet. While low flow and smart-flush toilets are quickly becoming ubiquitous, there are some even more significant alternatives. Composting toilets save enormous amounts of water, though tech hasn’t quite caught up with the ick factor.

But it doesn’t end with a flush. As California’s drought approaches Mad Max proportions, support for toilet to tap programs – in which wastewater is purified and recycled – are quickly growing in popularity.

Get a Loo

For much of the world, just the idea of a working toilet is a luxury – 2.5 billion people live without running water in their homes. Tech like the nano membrane toilet, funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, could prove a literal life-saver – the device produces clean water and pathogen-free waste.

The Wetlands Work organization is building “floating toilets” for East Asia’s water-based communities. British students have created a toilet that generates electriticity – it’s hoped the tech could be used to light cubicles in refugee camps. And the D.R. Toilet is a flat-pack system that addresses sanitation needs during natural disasters.

It’s Not All Good

Where there’s tech, there are hackers – even in the privacy of your home. Last year, a vulnerability in Lixil’s Satis smart toilet technology left the porcelain plaything open to hackers. Keep in mind that those highly-theoretical hackers could only flush the thing and play music, but it’s something to consider before punching your social security number into your cool new toilet. On the other end of the privacy spectrum, some maniac built a toilet that tweets every time it’s flushed.

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