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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tech overload in the bathroom

I just got a promotional email for "bathroom upgrades" from Bed Bath and Beyond that makes me
wonder if we've really gone completely mad in embedding sensors in everything. In truth, I enjoy shopping in the store. It's fun to see various kitchen gadgets and doodads for decor. Most of the stuff no one really needs, though it can be put to some use, but I do question some of these things.

These items each have their own promotional videos to try to really convince you that your life will only be complete with an illuminated toilet bowl, automatic soap dispenser, smart mirror, or connected scale.

The first item is called Illumibowl, that a night light for your toilet -- not your bathroom, mind you, but just the toilet that gives you a choice of nine different colors. Hurrah! I must say, it really makes it so much more fun to go to the bathroom at night if your toilet bowl is illuminated in UFO-eerie green or spooky blood-red. And what bit of utility are you supposed to gain from this $19.99 gadget? Well, "no more blinding lights, wandering in the dark or late night misses or messes." I am assured that my "bathroom will never be the same." But maybe I do want it to be the same. And maybe I don't think it's so very hard to flip on a light when I want it. And maybe, just maybe, if I really have a problem with full light, I could just put one of those traditional night lights in. But then I wouldn't have that UFO glow effect.

The second item is simplehuman® Rechargeable Bath Sensor Pump in Brushed Nickel. For a mere $49.99, you can eliminate the hassle of washing your hands. Well, actually, it won't wash your hands for you, but it will eliminate the need to go through the trouble of actually pumping the soap out, dispensing it in a remarkable .2 seconds! Yes, that will save you a whole 2 seconds, giving you more time to scrub up!

This is the kind of thing that has some utility built into public restrooms as people are concerned about touching what others have touched, but it seems just a bit OCD to me to have to keep one in your own home.

I was most disappointed in the third item, the simplehuman® 5X Sensor Vanity Mirror. For the price of $199, I thought it should at least talk to you like the mirror in Snow White. But no, all it really does is light up as your face approaches because it's just too darn hard to hit a switch for an illuminated mirror.

This mirror only has a single light setting to simulate natural light. Back when I was a kid there was one that even offered a choice of different lights, to duplicate four different conditions, daylight, office, evening, home. It was called the Clairol True to Light mirror, and it still has some fans who now may purchase the Jerdon Tri-Fold Two-Sided Lighted Makeup Mirror with 5x Magnification for $34.99 on Amazon.

Of course, your high-tech bathroom would not be complete without a Wi-Fi connected scale. This email included 2, one of which is supposed sync with the data in your Fitbit to help you track your progress. That eliminate the difficulty of either remembering a number of writing it down. Who can be bothered with that? You have to conserve all your energy and your time for your fitness regimen. That extra second can be used for another jumping jack!  Put tech on your side, and you will, no doubt, achieve your goals!

I'm not an absolute Luddite. I think technology can be very helpful in promoting health and enabling an unobtrusive form of monitoring. But that doesn't mean we need to adopt everything that cuts out really easy tasks like switching on a light or pumping out soap just because we have the tech that makes it possible.