Considering the high number of intensely personal activities performed behind their closed doors, it's somewhat surprising that the bathroom is seen as the last high-tech-free bastion. But bathroom fixture and accessory suppliers are making up for lost time by creating a wide swath of smart personal care and hygiene products that increase both bathroom comfort and utility.
Toto has long been at the forefront of raising a bathroom's luxuriousness and IQ, but this year has added what may be the smartest bathroom tech ever — toilets that know when to flush themselves. At CES 2019, Toto unveiled an auto-flush sensor that flushes as soon as a user rises and walks away. No hand waving or other weird gestures, no buttons to push — and no germ-spreading — although models with the auto-flush sensor will still include a manual flush option.
The auto-flush feature will be available on Toto's Aimes, Legato, Nexus, Connelly and Aquia IV models, all of which feature a variety of other remote controllable luxurious personal comfort and cleaning extras, all priced around $2,000.
Also enabling germ-free hands-off flushing is Kohler's smart one-piece dual flush and unusually rectangular Numi toilet ($8,000), thanks to a sensor embedded in the standard trip lever. The lavish-appointed Numi also is equipped with a PureWarmth motion-activated toilet seat with temperature and duration controllable via the Konnect app or a touchscreen remote, along Bluetooth speakers with an SD card slot, and a nightlight.
Taking a shower also just got a lot smarter and hands-off. At CES, Moen added Alexa voice control to its U by Moen shower fixture (two-outlet controller/valve: $1,160, four-outlet: $2,200), and will add Apple HomeKit/Siri control in the next few months and Google Assistant operation in the spring. Users can voice command their shower to remotely start, stop and pause, set a precise water temperature, and program and trigger routines that can combine controlling the shower with smart lighting and smart window blind operations.
Plus, the Wi-Fi-connected digital shower controller features a 5-inch, non-touch, LCD screen that provides feedback on shower status.
Kohler's DTV+ showering system similarly allows voice control, via the company's Kohler Konnect technology, for adjusting water temperature, shower head and body sprays, music, lighting, steam and shower duration.
For grooming, there are an exponentially expanding number of smart digital assistant-assisted mirrors with built-in speakers. Some smart mirrors such as Kohler's Verdera are built-in, others are designed to sit on your vanity such as the HiMirror Mini ($119), which offers a virtual "My Beauty Box" that can populate a user's collection of skincare products to keep track of product efficacy and the SkinSAFE app to that reviews beauty product ingredients and allergens.
Possibly the most ambitious smart bathroom mirror is Philips' aptly-named SmartMirror, which the company previewed at CES. SmartMirror connects to a variety of Philips sensor-laden smart health and personal care products such as its Sonicare toothbrushes, Philips Smart Shaver series 7000, skin care, heart and blood pressure monitors, and scale, and uses live animations to guide users through best-practices during daily routines. No word on when the SmartMirror actually be available, however.