We have reached the final part of our 10-part series Techno Tokyo looking at technology in Japan. As NY1 Tech Beat Reporter Adam Balkin explains, a good place to end things off is the bathroom.
In all honesty - I'm not trying to be funny here - if you ever visit Japan, the biggest everyday technological difference between their society and ours are the toilets.
More than half of Japanese homes have toilets where the lid raises when you approach it, the seat warms before you assume the position, and a built-in bidet helps out when you're done.
But that's nothing. Check out the entire bathroom in this Daiwa House showroom. A display under the mirror keeps track of all those important health indicators, from your weight, taken from a scale built into the floor under the tile; to your body fat; to your blood pressure, which you can measure while on the can.
And while you're there, it's a good thing this Toto toilet may scare you into releasing your bladder, because it collects your urine to analyze your sugar level.
“It's designed to monitor obesity, so you can monitor blood pressure, weight gain and sugar level to help prevent metabolic syndrome,” says Minoru Hamano of Daiwa House. “This information can be sent to your doctor, but it's not designed to take the place of the doctor performing his or her own tests.”
But if that one scares you a bit, this Toto toilet might be more up your alley. This one, when you sit on it, actually entertains you by playing you some music. And not just any music - your music.
“It takes a regular SD memory card, you just drag and drop mp3s from your computer to the card and then slide the card into the remote control unit for the toilet,” says Kumi Goto of Toto. “When we did research with the customer that was usually one of the top two requests for what more they'd like from a toilet, audio or visual entertainment.”
That one also cleans the air inside the toilet by recycling it through filters coated with aroma therapy oils.
But if the Japanese take anything more seriously than gadgetry, it's energy and resource conservation, which is why another toilet has been popular for years. This simple technology allows you to wash your hands with clean water, and then have that water fill the toilet.
After all, really, who - other than your dog - cares how clean the toilet water is?
- Adam Balkin