GROHE UK’s Michael Gray discusses the growing trend for including smart technology to help create a spa-like haven in the bathroom, and the types of solutions available.
Smart technology should be considered in any new bathroom design, particularly as more and more homeowners and designers are now looking to use the space as a personal haven to unwind and relax. Many smart products are now available in the bathroom from shower toilets, to spa- like showers controlled by Bluetooth technology, helping to create the perfect home spa bathroom.
This trend is driven by increasingly busy lifestyles, and the desire for not only an optimised user experience, but one that is personalised to an individual’s preferences. As well as creating personal, luxuriously tailored experiences for the user, the smart home will be able to make resource management really efficient – saving water and energy without impacting on product performance
Shower toilets are the norm in Asia and now there is an increasing demand for these hygienic toilet systems in Europe, in both hotels and homes. Shower toilets feature an integrated bidet system and are designed to harness the gentle and effective cleansing benefits of water to help deliver optimum hygiene levels in the bathroom, and often come with a host of advanced features. Thanks to the gentle and natural cleansing process, the need for toilet paper is eliminated, thus the systems can offer excellent eco- credentials.
Certain shower toilets offer smart technology, including extensive options that allow users to create a personalised cleansing routine, including adjusting the water pressure and position of the spray arm, to the preferred temperature, spray pattern and cleansing cycle. The individual settings can be controlled intuitively using either the remote control or via an app which allows users to store all their favourite settings on a digital device. Some brands have also taken into consideration common issues for users, such as having to go to the toilet at night, and have combatted this by designing toilets with incorporated LED lighting.
Already a well-known feature in public and commercial washrooms, touchless taps are now gaining popularity in residential bathrooms due to their unique combination of comfort and hygiene thanks to hands-free activation.
Through the touchless, sensor activated control, the taps minimise the spread of bacteria to contribute to a healthy bathroom. This also helps to keep the tap sparkling clean for longer, reducing maintenance and maximising product life. They also often come with a timer which automatically stops the water flow after a desired length of time to reduce wastage.
Many people planning a bathroom today also want to take their future needs and requirements into account without compromising on contemporary, stylish design. Driven by demographic change, demand for “multi-generational bathrooms” continues to increase.
Wet rooms are a popular feature in the modern bathroom as they are spacious and provide easy access for all users. There is also a growing need for thermostatic shower control to ensure precise and safe user comfort. Look out for manufacturers that offer thermostatic technology to deliver maximum safety levels in the bathroom. This can include technology that balances out fluctuations in water temperature and pressure, and technology that ensures the outer surface of the shower remains cool to eliminate the risk of scalding.
Luxury hotel bathrooms often make a statement using products that encourage wellbeing and promote a space of relaxation, and homeowners are being inspired to emulate this in their own homes. As a result, there is a huge array of wellness products now available, including showers with mood lighting, steam functions and music controlled by Bluetooth. Oversized ‘statement’ showerheads are also available, alongside products that offer a range of spray patterns designed to suit the user’s needs, with side shower sprays offering the opportunity for a massaging showering experience.
For smaller budgets, showering products are available that offer multiple spray patterns from an intense jet to a relaxing massage spray. This adds a simple but indulgent addition to your showering experience, offering you the choice to tailor the water flow to suit your mood.
Water saving in the home is becoming more relevant than ever before, as people are increasingly aware that the products they use can have a significant impact on the environment. Many homeowners are now looking for appliances and gadgets that help conserve precious resources, use less energy, and are kind to the pocket.
About two thirds of water consumption in private households is accounted for in the bathroom and as much as a third of a building’s water is flushed down the toilet. In the UK alone, there are around 45 million toilets, equating to flushing approximately 2 billion litres of water every day! This can be reduced by installing a dual flush toilet system, which will only typically use four to six litres of water opposed to the old style flush systems which use 13 litres per flush. Another easy tip to save water in the bathroom is by choosing a water efficient showerhead. The Energy Saving Trust says that a family of four taking just under 20 showers a week can save around £80 a year on gas for water heating, as well as £120 on water bills if they change their showerhead. By choosing a low flow showerhead, you can reduce the amount of water you use in the shower as these clever showerheads, consume less water but still perform to the same standard as a regular head.
THE FUTURE OF THE SMART BATHROOM
Bluetooth, infrared and wireless technologies are all areas that will see further development as the smart home sector continues to thrive. Meanwhile, products with advanced user recognition features will become more common, such as those seen in other parts of the home with sensors that know when we are home and voice activation abilities. With advanced sensing there will be
a time when you’ll no longer have to set your preferred settings – such as water temperature and flow strength – for each use.
Michael Gray is product manager at GROHE UK