At IMM 2017, Martina Brüßel, from Aqua Cultura, a custom bathroom company in Germany, gave a talk about what the digitalization trend looks like in the most used room in the house.
“Bathroom digitalization is a field is a field with limitless possibilities. The question is, what do you want in life. How can you relax more? Is there a way to make things easier?”
Dornbracht, the Swiss fixture manufacturer has developed a system they call SMARTWATER that allows each user to personalize settings for light, fragrance, music, water pressure, temperature, and more. “Normally, you would need a hundred buttons and switches,” says Brüßel, “but now, a single console offers customization according to mood, function (cleaning, relaxing) or individual user (mother, father).”
Of course, once your bath as been run, and you’re soaking in water that’s not too hot and not too cold, you might read, listen to music or watch Say Yes to the Dress. “Many people say, ‘Oh, come on, who needs to watch TV in the bathroom?,’” says Brüßel, “but that is the beauty of a customized room. If you want to stay three or four hours in the bath and catch up on your series, then it’s possible.”
The Japanese shower toilet, one a source of perplexing amusement to travelers, is now making its way to Europe. For young people, it’s a nice bonus, but if you are older or handicapped it can boost your sense of independence and allow you to live at home longer.
Getting your speakers, steam shower and sauna to work together with the bath, shower, toilet, lights and blinds can still be difficult. The international connection standard is KNX, though some manufacturers such as Gira (control systems), Valiant (heating), Dornbracht (fixtures), Bose (sound) and Brumberg (lighting) created their own platform called Connected Comfort in 2012.
On January 19, 2017, architects and planners visited the Connected Comfort site at the fair, a 600 m2 exhibition with exclusive furnishings for the bathroom and spa as well as networked comfort solutions offered the perfect setting for stimulating conversations.
The control system must be intuitive. Grohe, for example, has taken care to eliminate submenus from its F-digital water control system. And then there is obsolescence. Bathrooms are renovated every 20 years or so and, as Brüßel wryly points out, “Our friends at Apple like to change connectors more often than that.”Is all this technology strictly necessary? No. But neither was the car when we had perfectly good horses or an airplane when one had a perfectly good chauffeur. Says Brüßel, laughing, “Whenever we give advice to customers, they always say no, this thing or that thing is too expensive. I don’t need it. For those that do get it, once they have, they can’t imagine life without it. It’s clever to be smart.”