Toilet of the future? You might want to sit down for this
NBC NEWS - Despite its relatively staid presence in industrialized regions like
the United States and Western Europe, the toilet could stand a
technological makeover. Three up-and-coming industrial designers may
have found just the thing that the modern toilet needs to remain abreast
of technological innovation, as they recently demonstrated with an
award-winning prototype for a new kind of toilet that subtly
reconfigures the user's posture while providing a plethora of biometric
In honor of World Toilet Day last month, three students
from Central St Martin's College at the University of Arts London — Sam
Sheard, Pierre Papet, and Victor Johansson — took part in a competition
that was put on by the U.K.-based plumbing company Dyno-Rod Drains. The
objective? To design "the toilet of the future"
and help "raise awareness on how we can upgrade the current 130 year
old flush toilet to one that benefits our health and the environment."
winning prototype, the "wellbeing toilet," introduces many high-tech
innovations to the modern can — Johansson and Papet said that it could
eventually be used to analyze a user's waste to monitor for health
defects such as diabetes or kidney diseases, and could even provide
information about nutritional deficiencies or pregnancy.
real "game-changer" that the trio wanted to bring to the wellbeing
toilet was something far more basic, Johansson and Papet told NBC News
in an email. Being students of industrial design, they were most
interested in reconfiguring the basic shape of the toilet into a sort of
hybrid between the chair-like structure of modern toilets and angular
position of "squat toilets."
"The sitting position is wrong" in
modern toilet design in most Western countries, Johansson said. "The
natural position for a human to sit is in a squatting position." Most
modern toilets push users into a 90-degree upright sitting position much
like the one people adopt when, say, sitting at a desk or dinner table.
This position, Johansson said, "is obstructing the bowels"
whenever people go to the bathroom, which can lead to many health
problems such as constipation to more serious colon infections.
problem with trying to redesign something like a toilet, however, is
that "it is incredibly difficult to introduce something new" since, like
many basic pieces of furniture like chairs or tables, it's "something
most people use all the time without giving it much consideration,"
"If you asked a toilet customer in the UK if he would consider buying a squatting toilet he would laugh at you," he added.
design they settled on, therefore, attempts to subtly nudge users into
"overcoming these apprehensions and help get them into a they're not
used to anymore," Papet said. It still allows for a traditional
sitting-type position, but the slight forward-leaning angle of the seat
that juts up from the base of the structure allows bathroom-goers to
perch their feet on the edge of the device as they heed nature's call.
expect toilet technology to change overnight, however. Both Papet and
Johansson admit that this project began as a curiosity on their part
when they first learned of the competition, and as a result it still
remains firmly in its "prototype" stage.
"It would need to be
discussed with engineers and manufacturers to be viable [for increased
production]," Papet said, "but the basic are there."
But even if
bathroom-goers the world over were suddenly to adopt a new toilet
paradigm such as this one, Eduardo Kausel, a professor of civil and
environmental engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT), said that squat toilets could pose some problems of their own.
"My sense is that the danger with squatting is that you might miss the bowl," Kausel told NBC News.
and Victor both admitted that there might be some initial discomfort
when it comes to adopting a new standard for going to the bathroom. But
that's also part of the point.
"Essentially, this toilet is
forcing a new way of sitting which doesn't to a large extent doesn't
exist, culturally speaking, in the west yet," Johannes told NBC News.
"But I think when people start realizing the benefits they might be
tempted to switch."
Sunday, August 20 2017 3:21 PM EDT2017-08-20 19:21:22 GMT
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