#54 - bathroom delights

ISH—Bathroom Digitization, Full Speed Ahead and Seamless

A bathroom concept by Roca. Photo courtesy of Roca.

The bathroom is one realm where digitalization stalled. However, that slow down is no longer—as new solutions and innovations from ISH 2019, the world’s leading trade fair for HVAC and water systems, demonstrate. To highlight new smart technology in the bathroom world, online network World-Architects presented a tour by Martin Wiedenmann, partner at Berlin- and Munich-based architecture firm Schmidhuber, and ArchiExpo e-Magazine jumped onboard.

Personalization is where digitization is going,” Wiedenmann states. “Once untouchable, now a brand is your friend on facebook—and companies need this aura.”

Early digitization adapter Hansgrohe, which uses ISH to present the RainTunes digital shower system, serves as a prime example. A seduction of all five senses, with water, light, sound, and fragrance, the RainTunes’s programs—think “Good Morning” and “Relaxation”—are geared towards both the user’s mood and time of day. The system is adjustable via RainButtons – suggesting days are numbered for the age-old tap. These Bluetooth-connected control buttons for spray modes, water flow, and temperature can be moved on a whim, placed according to convenience. For more thorough adjustments, there’s RainPad, a fixed control panel.

RainTunes by Hansgrohe is smart-phone friendly. Photo courtesy of Hansgrohe.

RainTunes by Hansgrohe is smart-phone friendly. Photo courtesy of Hansgrohe.

With a dangling shower tray – that’s the Nexsys shower surface, which, for booth drama is ceiling mounted – German manufacturer Kaldewei demonstrates its digital services focusing on the planning or construction stage on a building site. Tapping augmented reality technology and incorporating Building Information Modeling (BIM) for intelligent 3D models, Kaldewei products can be linked to their ‘digital twin’ for multi-dimensional visualization.

In the professional sector digitization is about the installer, and BIM data – while very complex – is very easy to use,” notes Wiedenmann.

The Nexsys shower surface from Kaldewei. Photo courtesy of Kaldewei.

The Nexsys shower surface from Kaldewei. Photo courtesy of Kaldewei.

As it continues to top global sales charts for shower toilets, Japanese manufacturer Toto launches connected bathroom concept Life Anew Next.

“Our research shows there is a significant benefit to connected bathrooms in public spaces—as with a messy bathroom you have a poor experience,” said Bhavik Patel, director of business strategy, Toto U.S.

Using Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport—an early adopter—as a prototype, Toto’s researchers explored all the ways connected bathrooms can streamline service in the public realm. As a result, Life Anew Next ties smart sensors to paper products and soap (indicating when these are lacking) and to water, causing automatic closure of bathrooms with plumbing issues. Tracking usage by the numbers is built in. For example, with charts calculating water usage and how much toilet paper is used by the day, month or year, predictions can be accurately made addressing both order timing and cost.

Likewise, maintenance is the goal of the newly launched RocaProtect by Spanish bathroom manufacturer Roca, which focuses on facility management on the residential side—angling to lower home insurance costs. It too can calculate and predict water usage and costs as well as indicate plumbing blockages, stopping water supply remotely.

There is still room to take more digital into the bathroom,” said a Roca representative, who suggests toilet seats measuring hydration are on the horizon.

About the Author

Mairi Beautyman is a journalist based out of Berlin. She's been
writing about design and architecture since 2001.

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