April 18, 2011, 2:32 PM — In case you were ever wondering if universal connectivity and super-convenient mobile computing could go too far: the answer is yes.
High-tech toilets are huge in Japan; not so much in the West, where most of us want hardware to leave us alone during our more personal time.
U.S.-based, high-end bathroom fixture manufacturer Kohler just introduced its first fully digitized toilet – the touch-tablet-enabled Numi, which includes controls for seat temperature, a foot warmer, position repositioner, extending bidet with variable water pressure and temperature, and a blow drier you probably shouldn't try on your hair.
It can also raise and lower the lid automatically for those who decline to recline, and has an optional UV germ killer, an MP3 player, built in speakers and a theme song that will welcome your march to the throne with a chorus of rushing waves that segues into gentle piano tunes.
"Take Comfort. Take Control," Kohler's slogan is for the smart seat.
Take it somewhere else, please, is mine.
I'm a huge fan of smartening up previously dumb devices. Without new electronics I'm limited in the mistakes I can make with the inanimate. Dropping, tripping, stubbing, losing and cranio-impacting are all good, traditional ways for the inanimate to get its revenge on us, but even that wide range of possibilities palls after a while.
Combine all the breakage you can do with a computer with everything you can cause to go wrong with complex bathroom fixtures? Now you're onto a whole new area of inadvertent investigation.
Somehow knowing my toilet knows I'm there and is ready to do something about it is not a thought I like to have when I'm having to think about toilets. I prefer a nice crossword and would not like Kohler's help with it, thank you very much.
I won't say it's a waste of money; people who can spend $6,400 on a toilet and feel good about it aren't going to be hurt by my criticism.
I'll just say there are some things one prefers to do for oneself. The Kohler Numi's impressive capabilities almost all fall into that category.
I'd be happy to see it installed in someone else home, or see a demo in a store or a trade show or county fair. And I wouldn't be looking for an outhouse afterward as a way of pursuing some kind of luddite-zen balance in the world.
I'd just prefer not to have to explain things to my toilet, or figure out how to make it do what I want it to do while it's figuring the same things out about me.