Technology improvements in Toilets

[tweetmeme] The Japanese are known for the innovations in daily life that they have been well weird to the rest of the world, nevertheless they are more than just innovations, they are good use of engineering concepts. The practicality of these devices is something of a debate. The current state of the art for Western-style toilets is the bidet toilet, which, as of 2009, is installed in 69% of Japanese households. In Japan, these bidets are commonly called washlets, a brand name of Toto Ltd., and include many advanced features rarely seen outside of Asia. The feature set commonly found on washlets are ass washing, bidet washing, seat warming, and deodorization. Yes these information exist on the toilets. Lets look at some more features in detail :

The Toto product Washlet Zoe is listed in Guinness World Records as the world’s most sophisticated toilet with seven functions. However, as the model was introduced in 1997, it is now likely to be inferior to the latest model by Toto Neorest. As of 2002, almost half of all private homes in Japan have such a toilet, exceeding the number of households with a personal computer. Check out the features as mentioned in Wikipedia, almost hilariously interesting.

Basic features

The most basic feature is the integrated bidet, a nozzle the size of a pencil that comes out from underneath the toilet seat and squirts water. It has two settings: one for washing the ass and one for the bidet. The former is called posterior wash, general use, or family cleaning, and the latter is known as feminine cleaning, feminine wash or simply bidet. At no point does the nozzle actually touch the body of the user. The nozzle is also self-cleaning and cleans itself before and after operation. The user can select to wash the ass or vulva by pressing the corresponding button on the control panel. Usually the same nozzle is used for both operations, but at a different position of the nozzle head, and using different openings in the nozzle to squirt water at a different angle to aim for the correct spot. Occasionally, two nozzles are used, each dedicated for one area. The control logic is also attached to a pressure switch in the toilet seat, and operates only if there is pressure on the seat, indicating that the seat is occupied. The very first models did not include this automatic switch-off. A number of curious users pressed the button while watching the toilet to see its mode of operation, and promptly received a jet of warm water in their face.

Customization

Most high-tech toilets allow water temperature and water pressure to be adjusted to match the preferences of the user. Researchers in Japan have found that most users prefer a water temperature slightly above body temperature, with 38 °C considered optimal. The nozzle position can also often be manually adjusted forward or aft. High-end washlets allow selection of vibrating and pulsating jets of water, claimed by manufacturers to be beneficial for constipation and hemorrhoids. The most advanced washlets can mix the water jet with soap for an improved cleaning process.

The washlet can replace toilet paper completely, but many users opt to use both wash and paper in combination—although use of paper may be omitted for cleaning of the vulva. Some wipe before washing, some wash before wiping, some wash only, and some wipe only—each according to his/her taste. Another frequent feature is a blow drier, often adjustable between 40°C and 60°C, used to dry the washed areas. (tell me you are not yet laughing)

Advanced features (The more Interesting Bits)

Other features may include a heated seat, which may be adjustable from 30°C to 40°C; an automatic lid equipped with a proximity sensor, which opens and closes based on the location of the user. Some play music to relax the user’s sphincter. Other features are automatic flushing, automatic air deodorizing, and a germ-resistant surface. Some models specially designed for the elderly may include armrests and devices that help the user to stand back up after use. A soft close feature slows the toilet lid down while closing so the lid does not slam onto the seat, or in some models, the toilet lid will close automatically a certain time after flushing. The most recent introduction is the ozone deodorant system that can quickly eliminate smells. Also, the latest models store the times when the toilet is used and have a power-saving mode that warms the toilet seat only during times when the toilet is likely to be used based on historic usage patterns. Some toilets also glow in the dark or may even have air conditioning below the rim for hot summer days. Another recent innovation is intelligent sensors that detect someone standing in front of the toilet and initiate an automatic raising of the lid (if the person is facing away from the toilet) or the lid and seat together (if someone is facing the toilet). [Can
you imagine all that :) ]

Text explaining the controls of these toilets tends to be in Japanese only. Although many of the buttons often have pictograms, the flush button is often written only in Kanji, meaning that users who are not well versed in the Japanese writing system may be unable to flush the toilet except through random button pressing. Thus, despite the many advanced features, the toilet is unusable for some foreigners.

Future developments

Recently, researchers have added medical sensors into these toilets, which can measure the blood sugar based on the urine, and also measure the pulse, blood pressure, and the body fat content of the user. Talking toilets that greet the user have also started being made. Other measurements are currently being researched. The data may automatically be sent to a doctor through a built-in internet-capable phone. However, these devices are still very rare in Japan, and their future commercial success is difficult to predict. A voice-operated toilet that understands verbal commands is under development. TOTO, NAIS, and other companies also produce portable, battery-operated travel washlets, which must be filled with warm water before use.

The seat-heating feature is very common, found even on toilets that lack the bidet features. Often this is stated as an example of unnecessary use of technology, but as most Japanese homes lack central heating, the bathroom may be only a few degrees above freezing in the winter, and a prewarmed seat may not seem so frivolous.

Many Japanese women are embarrassed at the thought of being heard by others during urination. To cover the sound of bodily functions, many women flushed public toilets continuously while using them, wasting a large amount of water in the process. As education campaigns did not stop this practice, a device was introduced in the 1980s that, after activation, produces the sound of flushing water without the need for actual flushing. A Toto brand name commonly found is the Otohime (Sound Princess). This device is now routinely placed in most new public women’s rooms, and many older public women’s rooms have been upgraded.The Otohime may be either a separate battery-operated device attached to the wall of the toilet, or included in an existing washlet. The device is activated by pressing a button, or by the wave of a hand in front of a motion sensor. When activated, the device creates a loud flushing sound similar to a toilet being flushed. This sound either stops after a preset time or can be halted through a second press on the button. It is estimated that this saves up to 20 liters of water per use. However, some women believe that the Otohime sounds artificial and prefer to use a continuous flushing of the toilet instead of the recorded flush of the Otohime. [Hand on face]

No matter what, this makes for interesting improvements in engineering and the future (by this time I am finding it difficult to type, cos I am laughing on the floor). Anyway some examples of the pics can be seen here .

Transparent and Techo Football for the World Cup

[tweetmeme] Technology has spread to all aspects of our lives, and Sports is something where accuracy and timing is one of the most desired characteristics, and so how could technology not be involved. Well, in an earlier post I had looked at the influence of technology in the world of cricket.

Considering the world cup approaching this year, the football which had undergone aesthetic and aerodynamic upgrades from Adidas last time around has just got an injected with sensors, yes if all goes well this time around the world cup will feature footballs that are transparent as well as be embeded with sensors that will let the referee know when the ball has crossed the goal line. Dubbed Goal line technology, which FIFA had decided to use at the 2007 Club World Cup, to be contested by continental club champions in Japan between December 7 and 16 2009 is apparently really pleased with the results and the same might be used at the FIFA world cup as well.

AGENT, a strategic intelligence embassy has revealed a transparent football concept dubbed the CTRUS. Fair play could creep in ever so well in the game of soccer if something like this interactive detection system, GPS and RFID included ball can make to the fore. This would mean easier identification of those close calls over the goal line, or the side line. Make obvious the off sides, and provide transparency in decisions like the ‘hand of God’ and the more recent Thierry Henry’s controversial handball goal against Ireland. The inner structure of the CTRUS is made in skelle-core while the outside of the ball features a net-embedded shell, which leaves the ball to be the first transparent soccer ball. More images and video demonstration of the ball after the jump.

Microsoft shows how we might use a Tablet device

[tweetmeme] One of the biggest giants of the software industry alongside Google is Microsoft and unlike Google which relies on fans and partner companies to do most of the innovation in relation to hardware, Microsoft is taking on the task by itself. Against, a common competitor Apple and the iPad. Sometime earlier we looked at how the tablet industry is shaping up across the world, especially since Apple announced the iPad. It was more than just disappointing to see that Apple did the intro of the device which was not really great, however world over people seem to think that Apple has the right pulse when it comes to handhelds especially after the tremendous success of the iPod and the iPhone. So, without really performing any sort of sanity check all companies seem to jump on to the Tablet bandwagon, maybe through direct involvement or indirect. Today lets see one of the offerings that will be available just after the iPad.

Microsoft courier

Definitely one of my favorite devices in the list. Why ? well it embodies the concept of a hand held notebook (quite literally). I guess I might be speaking too soon, but the demo’s and concept photos that have surfaced recently, including windows mobile 7, seem to show Microsoft’s intent to start from scratch to make their offering better. Some of the pictures below here might just show how good this device might turn out to be, and a video showing how Microsoft thinks we will use this device.

The below video highlights the usability and how we might use it as a true journal.

I believe that we might really use this device and it is a lot more practical than the iPad.

You might also like these articles :

Future Tense …

Previously I did write about the Paleo future, a future which we thought the world would be like in the past. But definitely that future is a little deferred but still in line with what is today. You can check out the Paleo future post here. Lot of things have changed, even the internet that we so admire has changed or simply put, our interaction with the Internet has definitely changed. One of the main domains that has altered our world present, past and definitely in the future is information access.

In the 1800’s we were a clan of people that were meeting at the town center, or at the weekly market to exchange information about each other and the local surroundings, then the big revolution happened, Newspapers. Newspapers provided us with information about what was happening around the world without having to leave the comfort of the homes. It fascinated people that they could go and see pictures from places as well as news from people that are completely not in your circle of friends, village or even continent. The natural succession to the newspaper was the radio, the humble radio as it is called today was nothing short of a revolution at that moment, you could now listen to people live talking about events that happened as you spoke. Unbelievably, the information hunger that people had just kept increasing and now they wanted to also see what was happening, a few years later came the Idiot box, the one tool that ruled the homes, hearts and lives of millions of people around the world. New stars were born, created and then the term “15 seconds of fame” was put together.

Lurking in the background at the same time was a very geeky invention, the Computer and the Internet. It did not seem much until, the efforts of Microsoft along with a whole host of manufacturers put the computer in the homes of people. I know a lot of people will disagree with me about using Microsoft here, but let’s all face it, they were the first to move in to the home with interfaces that maybe the masses could understand and use. Now a majority of city dwellers have a very strong online presence. A presence that is almost like living on the internet where you choose what information you want to see, rather than the earlier medium of newspaper, radio and TV. The information highway got its 2 way route. So, whats next ? well there are theories and then there are theories. With technologies like augmented reality, virtual worlds and social news we are on the brink of yet another shift in our way of life … I have some videos here that shows different people’s opinion of the future. Please do have a look at these You tube videos.

World Builder – Its like Sketchup on steroids

Augmented Reality to the extreme ..  Microsoft concept videos

Microsoft Office

Oh well cannot embed MSN video so, here is the link to the site.

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

This is definitely one of the defining moments in the Human Evolution. People are able to produce something extraordinary from computers once they spend enough time with it. Imagine what it would do to a child’s way of thinking, not bound by the shackles of society and stereotypical thinking, One Word, Miracle. I remember the first time I saw a computer it was when I was in 9th grade. I would walk up and sand outside the computer lab for hours, fantasizing about the computer and the computer teacher. Some of my weirdest dreams at that time included both of them in it. Anyway, it was a black screen with a cursor and some text spewing when a person keyed in something into the typewriter attached to it. I was hooked.

Through the years, I have used computers for a lot, even learnt software authoring and the likes. It always used to make me wonder, from the time I saw my first computer to this day its about 8 years and I should say I have learned quite a bit, if not all of it. What would a young man come up with who has been with computers for about 25 years or more. He would have a lot of answers to our questions. Increasingly popular internet resources and knowledge bases online have forced every sort of educational institution around the world to provide internet and computers as part of their learning process. I think to find the answers to such a question the team at MIT Labs took fourth the mission of providing a laptop to all children in about 100$, maybe eventually even free. This especially in the developing countries.

This weeks tribute goes into the OLPC Foundation for trying to achieve the impossible, burning the flame of knowledge………….