Skip to main content

Why the bathroom is the final frontier of the smart home

The final frontier: The bathroom. The mission: To boldly go where few smart home devices have gone before.

There are dozens of dedicated smart home devices for the kitchen and bedroom, and hundreds for the living room, but there’s a distinct lack of smart devices for the bathroom. Why? Well, the answer is probably pretty obvious to most people.

There are some rooms in the house where you want to be left alone. The bathroom is one of them. The last thing you want when you’re in there is a chime followed by a delivery announcement, or one of your children using the broadcast feature to speak to you. Still, the bathroom holds a lot of potential for smart technology, but it needs to be the right technology.

Prime Day Focus
Anker SOLIX Prime Day deals: This shopping guide highlights the best discounts
Prime Day: Beatbot’s best-selling pool vacuums are at lowest prices of the year
Ecovacs early Prime Day deals: Save big on top-rated smart home cleaners
For Prime Day save big on Tineco's innovative smart cleaning gear

The bathroom is a private space

Let’s face it: The bathroom is where we go to do things we don’t talk about in civilized company. It’s a necessary part of being human, and we are hardwired to want privacy in that space. The idea of putting a device with a camera or a microphone in the bathroom is unsettling on a visceral level.

Imagine if you went to a dinner party and stepped away to freshen up, only to discover a Nest Hub Max on the bathroom sink, its camera pointed at you as you washed your hands. It might be the last time you went to dinner at that particular house.

The idea of putting a device with a camera or a microphone in the bathroom is unsettling on a visceral level.

A smart speaker might earn a spot in a bathroom for playing music during a long bubble bath, but the majority of existing smart home technology doesn’t fit in a bathroom without giving us a serious case of the willies. So, what kind of smart tech would conquer the bathroom? Easy: Smart health and safety tech.

Bidets and scales and smart toilets, oh my

The bathroom is ground zero for any health-focused endeavors. It’s where we brush our teeth, where we keep our scales, and where most people have their medicine cabinets. Smart scales have already made a place for themselves, with options like the Wyze Scale S earning a home in our bathrooms for the detailed health information they provide.

Smart lights are good options for bathrooms, too. They’re LED, so they are less likely to fracture from moisture on a hot bulb versus old-school halogen or fluorescent bulbs. Smart plugs are great for their ability to ensure hair straighteners and other appliances are turned off.

So what kind of smart devices are left that actually make sense to use in a bathroom? Admittedly, not many — but you can’t forget about bidets and smart toilets. Often, they overlap.

Bidets are common across the rest of the world, but they haven’t quite caught on in the West. I speak from personal experience when I say that a bidet can be quite the experience if you aren’t expecting it (I apologize to all the people I frightened in that Tokyo bathroom.) So why haven’t they caught on here?

Bidets reduce toilet paper usage and improve hygiene.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

According to Miki Agrawal, founder and chief creative officer of Tushy, “the biggest challenge with widespread bidet adoption in the U.S. is definitely the cultural stigma. Other cultures have been using bidets for centuries, but we’ve been led to believe that toilet paper does the job. In reality, all it does it cost us money every month (to the tune of billions of dollars per year), kill millions of trees and cause chronic infections and diseases down there, like UTIs, hemorrhoids. and fissures.”

There’s also the idea that bidets are hard to install, but they actually aren’t. Sure, it takes a little bit of finagling with water lines, but anyone that has ever installed a video doorbell or a smart lock can install a bidet.

If you’re looking for a way to cut back on toilet paper usage and reduce your carbon footprint, a bidet is a step in the right direction. So what comes after that? Well, how about a toilet that analyzes your poop and tells you what’s wrong with your diet?

The Toto Wellness Toilet would make dietary recommendations by analyzing your bowel movements.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Toto proposed a conceptual Wellness Toilet in early 2021 that would provide users with health advice based on what they flushed down the drain. For example, it might detect that you don’t eat enough fiber and suggest a dietary change. Gross as it may be, fecal matter is chock-full of information about your body. Doctors can use it to identify signs of disease. If your toilet gathered that information for you so that you could just show the app to your doctor, it might eliminate the need for uncomfortable visits to small rooms with plastic containers.

We need to embrace the discomfort

The fact that even discussing the uses of technology in the bathroom makes many people uncomfortable is just another hurdle that must be overcome. If smart home technology is going to take over every room of the home — including the bathroom — then we need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

A lot of good can come from smart technology, especially health-focused tech. Imagine a smart toilet and smart scale that worked together with each other. You could start a muscle-building regimen and track your body composition on the scale and how accurately you were hitting your macros on the toilet.

If smart home technology is going to take over every room of the home — including the bathroom — then we need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Smart bathroom technology can even be used to reduce water usage. Smart showers make it easy to achieve the perfect temperature each and every time, while smart water valves reduce overall flow without impacting cleanliness.

A smart toothbrush improves dental hygiene at home.
John Velasco / Digital Trends / John Velasco / Digital Trends

A smart toothbrush can help you attain better oral health. Smart medicine distributors can ensure elderly family members get the right medicine at the right time. Smart mirrors can display weather information, the news, and more while you get ready (although the same can be accomplished with a smart display in another room.)

We joke a lot, but smart bathroom technology isn’t just about improving heinie hygiene. It’s about improving health — both your own, and that of the environment.

Patrick Hearn
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Patrick Hearn writes about smart home technology like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, smart light bulbs, and more. If it's a…
Google rolls out new Nest Cam features to Google Home for web
Nest Cams on a counter.

While many users access Google Home on their smartphone or smart display, the platform is also available via web browser. The web-based Google Home experience wasn't exactly the best way to access your smart devices, but that's rapidly changing as Google rolls out new updates to the client -- the latest of which adds a ton of new ways to access your Nest Cams.

Google began rolling out the update late last week, and most users should now have access to the improved Google Home for web experience. The big draw is access to your Nest Cam history and the option to download clips. Prior to this update, it was impossible to view recorded clips via Google Home for web, forcing you to instead jump into the official Google Home app.

Read more
The Skylight Cal Max is a 27-inch smart calendar that might replace your smart display
The Skylight Cal Max installed on a wall.

Skylight, a company responsible for a variety of popular smart frames, is gearing up to launch the Cal Max -- a smart calendar that's a simplified version of a traditional smart display. You won't be watching Netflix on the massive 27-inch screen or tinkering with dozens of different apps, as it's aimed at providing families with a streamlined way to access their calendars, chores, meal planning, and photo albums without any of the clutter found on traditional smart displays.

The Cal Max is designed to help organize your home without introducing any unwanted distractions. You won't find a massive lineup of supported apps (as you typically see on smart displays). Instead, you can seamlessly sync your data from Google Calendar, Outlook, Apple Calendar, Cozi, and Yahoo, allowing family members to automatically push all their activities to the Cal Max for easy planning. It also doubles as a smart frame, letting you view photos sent by members of your family.

Read more
Daisy is an installation and repair company designed for your smart home
The Diasy logo on a white background.

Smart homes have become increasingly complex over the past decade. From smart locks and video doorbells to security cameras and smart displays, there are a lot of moving pieces in the average smart home -- and getting them all working properly has become a hassle. Daisy, a new home technology company revealed at CES 2024, hopes to alleviate this problem, offering a professional service that installs and provides regular maintenance for your entire fleet of smart home gadgets.

The goal of Daisy is to help consumers "spend more time using and enjoying the technology in their home and less time being frustrated." Many smart home devices can be surprisingly difficult to install -- such as smart locks or smart blinds -- and if you're not comfortable installing one yourself, it can be difficult to find a reliable professional to handle the task for you. But with Daisy, it's looking like you'll have a one-stop shop for all your smart home needs.

Read more