Toilet Wars in Japan!

Discussion in 'Community' started by peter2002, Oct 8, 2002.

  1. peter2002 macrumors 6502

    Aug 1, 2002
    Dallas, TX
    Japanese Masters Get Closer to the Toilet Nirvana

    Japan's toilet wars started in February, when Matsu****a engineers here unveiled a toilet seat equipped with electrodes that send a mild electric charge through the user's buttocks, yielding a digital measurement of body-fat ratio.

    Unimpressed, engineers from a rival company, Inax, counterattacked in April with a toilet that glows in the dark and whirs up its lid after an infrared sensor detects a human being. When in use, the toilet plays any of six soundtracks, including chirping birds, rushing water, tinkling wind chimes, or the strumming of a traditional Japanese harp.

    In a Japanese house, "the only place you can be alone and sit quietly is likely to be the toilet," said Masahiro Iguchi, marketing chief for Inax.

    This may be one explanation for the ferocious toilet research going on in Japan. This is a nation famously addicted to gadgetry of any variety, and the addiction clearly extends to the bathroom. Another factor stimulating toilet research is the fact that Japan's population is peaking and the number of households is expected to start declining by the end of the decade. Some money can be made by exporting toilets to countries with comparatively primitive toilet cultures, like China and Vietnam. But in Japan the real sales growth will be found by adding exotic toilet features.

    Matsu****a, for example, introduced in May a $3,000 throne that not only greets a user by flipping its lid, but also by blasting its twin air nozzles — air-conditioning in the summer, heat in the winter. Patting this Cadillac of toilets, Hiroyuki Matsui, chief engineer here, said, "You can bring a bathroom temperature down by 7 degrees Celsius in 30 seconds."

    Then in June, Toto, Japan's toilet giant, came out with WellyouII, a toilet that automatically measures the user's urine sugar levels by making a collection with a little spoon held by a retractable, mechanical arm.

    Whether a home medical center or a Zen space for meditation, the toilet of the future will probably emerge from laboratories like the ones here at the Matsu****a Electric Industrial Company — workshops so secretive and competitive that a visiting reporter and photographer were not allowed inside.

    Americans should prepare for more than that simple 20th-century choice: to flush or not to flush. Users of the Matsu****a toilet can program it to pre-heat or pre-cool a bathroom at a specific time at a set temperature. For owners who might not be so regular, this toilet allows users to set the temperature and pressure of a water jet spray used to wash and massage the buttocks, an enormously popular feature in Japan.

    Toilet jet sprays, which sometimes confuse foreign visitors with disastrous results, are now in nearly half of Japanese homes, a rate higher than that of personal computers.

    To some, this is a sign of a nation gone perilously soft. They worry that the cosseted Japanese youths of the future, sitting dreamily on air conditioned thrones, will be no match for their squat-toilet neighbors — the worker bees of industrial China or the spartan soldiers of North Korea.

    Hideki Nishioka, a 90-year-old retired professor who chairs the Japan Toilet Association, a private group, says he always recommends that new schools in Japan contain "at least one or two of the old-style squat toilets."

    But they increasingly look like relics. Talking toilets are on the horizon. Equipped with microchips, these models would go beyond music, greeting each user with a personalized message, perhaps a recorded word of encouragement from Mom or a kindergarten teacher. In return, people will soon be able give their toilets simple verbal commands.

    "The voice sensor — `open sesame' and the lid opens — that will be on the market in two years," predicted Ryosuke Hayashi, manager of product engineering for Toto, a company that holds 60 percent of Japan's commode market. "It really is not difficult to make it responsive to a human voice. If you tell the machine, `I want hotter water,' or `I want stronger spray pressure,' the machine will automatically respond."

    Attacking a perennial issue, Toto sells a deodorizing toilet that "chemically neutralizes odor." Inax sells bathroom tiles billed as "odor absorbing."

    But in a country with the demographics of Florida, the real growth will be medical toilets linked to the Internet.

    "You may think a toilet is just a toilet, but we would like to make a toilet a home health measuring center," Mr. Matsui, the Matsu****a engineer, said in a lecture here in Nara, near Osaka. "We are going to install in a toilet devices to measure weight, fat, blood pressure, heart beat, urine sugar, albumin and blood in urine."

    The results would be sent from the toilet to a doctor by an Internet-capable cellular phone built into the toilet. Through long-distance monitoring, doctors could chart a person's physical well-being.

    "We will have this within five years or so," said Harry Terai, director of home appliances research for Matsu****a.

    With nursing homes largely full in Japan, the number of older people under home care is rising fast, jumping by nearly one quarter just last year.

    "In Japan, most people see the doctor after they become ill," said Hironori Yamazaki, a Toto engineer. "With an eye to our demographic change, we are setting out to make the toilet a space for the early discovery of disease."

    But some civil libertarians are having nightmares about "smart toilets" running amok, e-mailing highly personal information hither and yon. There are also Big Brother nightmares about master computers monitoring millions of bowel movements, checking around the clock to see who is constipated, who is not eating his peas and who is drinking too much.

    "I assume the records that come out of my toilet will have the same degree of protection as records that are generated when I take a medical exam," said Lawrence Repeta, a director of the Japan Civil Liberties Union. "There will be police investigators who see this as a great tool to find people who use illegal substances."


    No wonder the economy in Japan is in the "crapper".

    Peter :D
  2. King Cobra macrumors 603

    Mar 2, 2002
    First the poop thread, now this!

    And I'm so glad you made this article your sig, Peter! :D

    I think $3000 for a can is a bit pricey to relax my buttox. Besides, we just had our jon replaced for about $600 something a week or so back. So I'm happy-- ier.

    Why are people inventing such technology anyways? Do people really care that much about their jon? Eventually there will be automatic tissue boxes... :rolleyes: [​IMG] [​IMG] :p
  3. mac15 macrumors 68040


    Dec 29, 2001
    wow, who would have thought , wow hmmm, I don't know what to say
  4. scem0 macrumors 604


    Jul 16, 2002
    back in NYC!
    Threads seem to be centered around bowl movements lately.

    Sounds cool. What if apple started making toileds. You enter the room:

    "Hello! Welcome to iPoop"

    You sit on it:

    "Hello Emerson!"
    "You have gained approximately .0324 pounds"

    You finish pooping:

    "You have lost approximately .1438 pounds"

    "Thank you for using iPoop, may I flush now?"

    Then again, MS would make 'Microsoft Poop' which would do all of this, and give you a back massage, and people would buy it...
  5. diorio macrumors 6502a

    Aug 22, 2002
    Poop, the choice of Generation X. Everyone seems to like threads about poop, and this is an interesting one. What if your toliet talked to like,

    "you have hit the toliet seat 14 times. An accumilation of .0012 ounces of urine is now there. It is recommended for maximum performance that you wipe up the accumulation as quickly as possible. have a nice day"

    that would be weird.
  6. Fezwick macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2002
    Rhode Island

    They have made "Microsoft Poop." It's called Windows.
  7. diorio macrumors 6502a

    Aug 22, 2002
  8. G4scott macrumors 68020


    Jan 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Will this iPoop have dual processors? That's really important in a crapper to me... It would also be nice if they made the bowl like the display of the iMac so that you could change the position to however you'd like it, for small and large people... And when it's not in use, a LED on the bottom of the bowl should 'pulse', because that would be kinda cool...

    Imagine a crapper with a subwoofer, you know, to shake the sh*t out of you :eek: :eek: :D :p
  9. mmmdreg macrumors 65816


    Apr 14, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    I was in Japan and I say those toilets are pretty awsome...I also have a friend here in Australia that got one imported but anyway, they're worth a try...
  10. britboy macrumors 68030


    Nov 4, 2001
    Kent, UK
    Ha ha ha! One of these would be a huge step up from the hole in the ground i used to use in the middle east. A buttocks massage whilst going for a crap? are you supposed to be able to relax sufficiently to enjoy the massage, whilst straining to expel the demons within your bowels? :p
  11. mac15 macrumors 68040


    Dec 29, 2001
    cool how much was it anyways, I might get one for xmas, :rolleyes:
  12. sturm375 macrumors 6502

    Jan 8, 2002
    Bakersfield, CA
    iToilet already available!

    Check out the iToilet Here!

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