Think your bathroom is the last bastion of low-tech living in your increasingly high-tech home? It might be time to consider what technology can do for your morning and nighttime routine.
Smart televisions and kitchen appliances with high IQs. Security systems and doorbell cameras you can access with your phone. Outdoor living made easy with robot lawn mowers and app-commanded sprinkler systems.
There's little doubt that owning a modern home means employing some form of technology that makes that house smart. Innovation has inched its way across every square foot of our homes—even our bedrooms have intelligent lighting, voice-controlled TVs, and home hubs. Bathrooms, though, have been left relatively untouched.
That, however, is changing—changing the way we get ready in the morning or prepare for bed at night.
Yes, the room that once claimed an electric toothbrush as its most advanced piece of tech is finally catching up with the rest of the house, and it’s doing so in some very cool and creative ways.
Let's take a look at the seven best pieces of home technology for your bathroom.
The Smart Mirror
Imagine waking up, walking to your bathroom, and asking your mirror to start your morning routine. Run some news and the weather. Then play a few of your favourite tunes or a podcast.
That's precisely what you can do with the Alexa-enabled Verdera Voice mirror from Kohler.
Although its connectivity is undoubtedly impressive—the functionality of an Amazon Echo is embedded within the mirror—its most significant feature is the lighting.
The adjustable lighting is fed by two vertical LED bulbs fit on two pivoting side mirrors. Designed to mimic natural light, they shine bright for delicate tasks and can be muted for a softer atmosphere. Of course, since it’s an Alexa mirror, all of this luminescence is voice-controlled.
While the mirror and the tech within it are understated, it hints at the aim of innovation in the bathroom—making everyday tasks an enjoyable and immersive experience.
Technology Heavy Toilet
The less we discuss toilets, the better, right? While mostly true for this necessary item, there's plenty of toilet tech that warrants a mention.
First, toilets with LED lighting and heated seats are readily available at your local Lowe's or Home Depot. Perfect for when nature calls on a dark, cold night.
For those more interested in keeping things clean—the toilet bowl and what sits on it—there are several options for both. American Standard features a line of one-touch self-cleaning toilets. Their overall design has cleanliness in mind, eliminating hard-to-reach spots where dirt and other grime can get trapped.
On the other end of the clean seat spectrum, Kohler features a whole line of seats with integrated bidets, including those with pulsating or oscillating sprays, water temperature controls, and a warm air dryer.
But perhaps the grandest throne of all comes in the form of the Kohler Numi Toilet. The seat is hands-free, and the pedestal includes seat and foot warmers. There are also personalized settings for up to six people, ambient lighting with eight colors, a bidet, an air dryer and deodorizer, and a wall-mounted touch-screen remote. It also syncs with Bluetooth devices so you can play songs like “Taking Care of Business” while doing the same.
Faucets are the unsung heroes of bathrooms. We use them every day without giving much thought to their aesthetics or how they aid us in getting rid of germs and keeping our hands, mouths, and faces clean.
Delta has a line of faucets that not only have hands-free tech but shuts off automatically after two minutes to conserve water.
German company Grohe has faucet lines with LED displays and electronic timers that you can set for specific tasks like hand-washing or brushing your teeth.
And practically every faucet maker includes a low flow option in their lineup to provide you with just enough water to get the job done.
Ultimately, it's hard to go too over-the-top with a faucet. You turn it on, water comes out, you turn it off. But with new designs and a few nifty features, faucets are becoming harder to ignore.
Soaking in Science
Once upon a time, bathtubs were the centerpiece of every bathroom. Then, faster and more convenient showers came along and pushed tubs aside.
Today's bathtubs, though, are reclaiming their spot as the major focal point of the bathroom, particularly with the growing trend of redesigned en suites. Massive, oversized soaking tubs now dominate bathroom floor space with a lot of flair.
Of course, Kohler has already made waves in this line—literally. Their Underscore tub therapeutically vibrates the water with sound waves thanks to six concealed speakers (you can also connect your phone via Bluetooth and play your own tunes).
The company is also developing a tub that fills to a precise level, heats to a precise temperature, and drains when your soak is over, all at the sound of your voice.
Canadian firm MAAX features a line of tubs that include chromotherapy—where LED lighting accents the water in up to seven colors to create a specific mood to relax your body.
With advances like these, it's easy to understand why tubs have made such a comeback.
Not to be outdone, shower technology, in many ways, is even more impressive than that of the bathtub. In fact, some of the coolest features in your futuristic bathroom come courtesy of the shower—rainfall showerheads, wall-mounted horizontal water streams, and light displays galore.
But those are just the basics, and alongside many shower designs, they now come as standard features.
Geromin specializes in elegant shower designs, one of which includes ceiling-mounted LED lighting for chromotherapy and a steam dispenser for aromatherapy.
If you don't require the full enclosure, but want to increase your shower's intelligence, the U by Moen is an excellent compromise. You can start, stop, or adjust your shower, including temperature, via voice control through Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant. Set a specific shower routine to create the same experience each time, or arrange how short or long you want your shower to be.
And we must not forget the leader in smart bathroom tech, Kohler. In addition to the above advances in steam, digital controls, and a vast array of different body spray options, they also created a showerhead with a built-in Harman Kardon speaker and voice assistant.
Cabinets That Run Hot and Cold
Bathroom cabinetry hasn't really evolved over the years. Even in the most upscale of homes, it remains pretty basic. Small drawers, an inadequately-sized medicine cabinet, and traditional floor and wall mounts that barely have room for the plumbing, let alone all of your towels.
Thankfully, how we think about and use bathrooms is changing. While homeowners still want them to function as intended, they also want that function to be a spa- or resort-like experience.
And nothing says “spa” quite like refrigerator cabinets and warmer drawers.
That's right; more and more bathroom designs are incorporating temperature-controlled pull-outs. There's the cold option, which can store drinks or, more practically, keep certain medicines or health care products at optimal temperatures.
Then there are the warming drawers, where you can keep towels, robes, or slippers warm for when you exit the bath, shower, or when it's time to cozy up for bed. Who wouldn't want that experience every night of the week?
Automated Moments in Time
While it’s wonderful to have just one of the above advances situated prominently in your bathroom, a singular experience isn't enough. The real future of bathroom tech lies in full automation, similar to what's happening in other spaces in the home.
Picture for a second waking up in the morning. As you step foot in the bathroom, the lights gently come on, rising like the early-morning sun, instead of blasting you in the eye as if it's already noon.
The bath fills with water, or the shower comes on, with the water temperature to your exact liking, doing so at the sound of your voice.
You brush your teeth and use the restroom without touching either the faucet or the toilet, and your favorite podcast or playlist fills the air as you get ready for your day.
When you get home, you can repeat the experience with a routine set specifically for bedtime, all with minimal effort on your part.
Connecting every element in your bathroom and creating preset routines for weekday mornings or weekend nights isn't just the future—the tech is available today. While it doesn't come cheap, it’s within reach in many homes. And each day, more and more homeowners are creating their own bathroom oasis.
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