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Mirror mirror on the wall: Talking mirrors in bathrooms of the future tailor made for media consumption

Images and sounds will be seen and heard “whether you’re sitting on the toilet or shaving”, while surfaces such as shower screens and mirrors will become interactive

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 9:15am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 9:15am

So you stumble in the bathroom, still half asleep, and a cheery voice greets you: “Good morning”. It’s the mirror talking.

You find a comfortable place to sit - warmed to your personal preference – and begin to digest the overnight news headlines, all the while going about the business that bathrooms were intended for.

At a future home expo in May this year, a research team from Australian national broadcaster the ABC unveiled what a bathroom could look like in the coming years. Here’s what they reckon:

“We will see the advent of bathrooms designed for media consumption just as living rooms are today,” the researchers say, predicting bathrooms will be embedded with technologies “that open up possibilities for new forms of media”.

It will be devoid of dedicated screens. They’re thinking sensors which detect your body position and line-of-sight, so that images and sounds can be seen and heard “no matter whether you’re sitting on the toilet or shaving”. Surfaces such as shower screens and mirrors will become interactive, waterproof smart displays responsive to voice or gesture.

A smart mirror could interpret your physical health – either relaying data from your wearable device, or via sensors of its own. The data is fed back to a media channel, such as the ABC, which can deliver content tailored for your personal health goals and concerns.

But while you wait for these future technologies, existing products can make one’s daily ablutions more pleasurable.

Water-saving digital faucets are not just for fancy hotel bathrooms: the EcoJoy range of tapware from European manufacturer GROHE is activated by motion sensors; while Delta Faucet Company has embedded touch-on, touch-off technology into its new faucets, so water only flows when you need it.

GROHE has also integrated wireless technology and push-button operation into its latest products. It includes digital control of water flow and temperature, and a water and energy calculator to gauge water usage, the annual cost and energy savings. The automatic bath filling feature will fill the bath for you to your pre-set temperature and water level.

Smart tools from Dornbracht turn the morning shower into a spa-like experience. The brand’s Sensory Sky technology plays different choreographies of rain, mist, light and fragrances which the brand says are “inspired by weather phenomena and the moods of nature”.

With its high-efficiency flushing system, Japanese brand Toto, pioneers of toilet technology, takes aim at the one piece of household it which is the biggest water waster. The Tornado system uses a miserly 3.7 litres per flush, while its Red Dot award-winning Neorest suite takes care of all your personal hygiene needs - with aerated water, warm air dryer, heated seat, hands-free open/close, automatic flush and in-bowl catalytic deodoriser – saving water and energy.

If you’re just thinking about a small bathroom upgrade, how about a heated toilet seat, warmed to the temperature you have set, with built-in LED night light as a navigational guide for the nocturnal visitor? The LumaWarm heated night light toilet seat from Brondell can do that, and be retrofitted to your existing pan.

All these technologies are there for the taking – but feedback from visitors at the ABC’s smart-home expo makes it clear that some people like their bathrooms just way they are.

One said her boyfriend doesn’t like her texting at the table …. so she feigns a bathroom visit during mealtimes to check her messages.

Another opined that “The bathroom is a sacred space - not for technology. It’s a time to chill out, and there’s no need to be engaged with anything else.”