The Clever Commode

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

19 July 2018

While writing last week’s post, I learned about the one-of-a-kind TOTO Dual Flush toilet. I also ran across a few smart devices for the latrine. I knew about and was cool with those clever automatic dual flushing toilets and water bottles that remind their owners to drink, but smart showers and tooth brushes may be pushing it.

Case in point: A Colgate E1 will map out your mouth, provide specialized brushing tips, gather all your teeth-brushing data, and send it to a server in a random cloud somewhere for market research. Market research? If the toothbrush is going to all that trouble, shouldn’t it give me a little feedback on my dental health?

Is There a Line?

When the Snapshot device came out, I remember feeling uneasy about the information Progressive was going to gather and how they would use it. If I was speeding or driving erratically, would my insurance premium go up? Imagine if that were extended to my dental insurance? If I brush for 90 seconds, twice a day, can I get a preferred dental plan rating?

My entire bathroom routine can be tracked, analyzed, and targeted. Here is a list of some smart items available that can be hooked up to the internet from the privacy of my own bathroom.

It may be interesting to know how long you brush your teeth each morning or if your FitBit steps correlate with your daily weight. (After all, it’s hard to hide from a watch that tracks your steps and a scale that tracks your weight.) But are there other benefits to this information aside from market targeting and personal development? Can gathering and analyzing this data down the line show us a bigger, more interesting picture of humanity and our tendencies?

Take a Brief Timeout

By downloading these smart applications and signing up for accounts, you’re likely agreeing to share the data your smart device is gathering. And whether you like it or not, in order to use the product, you’ll have to agree to the terms. But you might want to think all that through first.

If you want your toilet seat heated at 6:45 a.m. and the tank programmed for its all-knowing full flush while your scale records your weight and your BMI and sends it to your personal trainer as your shower gets turned on at 6:55 a.m. with the water at a steamy 104 degrees and your bathroom’s audio system automatically queues your favorite mood music, you may need to give up a little privacy.

Even if you don’t have any preconceptions about things like modesty and dignity — and maybe I’m old-fashioned — but it feels like some things don’t need to be and weren’t meant to be shared.

Excuse me. You forgot to flush.