The bathroom is one of the most difficult areas of the home to move around due to the size and shapes of the bathroom elements. Surfaces can be slippery creating safety issues and a lack of mobility can be highlighted when getting into and out of the bath or even bending down to sit on the toilet. From moving around the bathroom to being comfortable and clean, what does the future hold for bathrooms?
“Mirror, mirror on the wall… what’s the weather like today?” Mirrors of the future will have built-in LED lighting, motion sensors, and will be ‘smart’. Samsung have created a mirror with Amazon’s Alexa built-in, and you can ask it to read the news, adjust mirror lighting, and control other house gadgets.
In the near future, we could see truly “smart” bathroom mirrors which move beyond being a solely cosmetic tool, performing daily health checks to save both you and the NHS precious time and money. Robert McFarlane, technology expert and head of labs at digital agency Head says “In the future your bathroom mirror could do a mini health check on you. It could use facial recognition technology to pick up subtle cues about your mental state, while simultaneously measuring your breathing rate and levels of oxygen in your blood.”
You walk into a bathroom, and your toilet automatically recognises you. The toilet adjusts the seat and settings based on weight and body type. It starts playing the soothing music you’ve pre-selected, or starts an audiobook. There’s a nightlight for when nature calls in the dark. And if it’s cold, it automatically heats the seat. This is the toilet of the future and its purpose is to make life as simple and easy as possible for you. It’ll even open up the lid for you. Japanese company Toto has been at the forefront of toilet innovation and cleanliness technology for decades. In the UK, it is best known for its Washlet, an electronic shower-lavatory (or bidet seat, as it’s sometimes known) with an automated washing and drying nozzle. Its latest model, the RX, features a sensor-operated lid and heated seat for ultimate hands-free comfort when using the loo. Or if you haven’t got £5,000 to upgrade your current toilet, there are options available now to make going to the toilet easier for all, such as toilet supports and raised toilet seats.
You won’t even need to turn on your taps in the future, which will certainly help with any upper body movement issues. The future is pretty much upon us here, with the SmarTap. It looks like a sleek thermostatic shower/bath controller, but it is Wi-Fi enabled so it can be used via smartphone or a voice-activated system such as Amazon Echo. Turn on the bath while you’re still in bed, then stroll into your bathroom a few seconds later when it’s hit the right temperature.
Even if this isn’t vital for you or your bathroom at this stage, bathrooms should be accessible for all, including guests. So, you need to think of where the grab rails can go if and/or when you remodel a bathroom. You should block the space out now for fewer obstacles later. The idea of placing reinforcement inside of your bathroom walls—or any walls for that matter—is called blocking. This blocking is then later used to offer the reinforcement needed for grab bars when they are installed.
Sight loss affects people of all ages, but as we get older we are increasingly likely to experience sight loss. One in five people aged 75 and over are living with sight loss; one in two people aged 90 and over are living with sight loss. So, in the bathroom, you should always consider the lighting and increase the lighting if necessary- this will lead to less eye strain and the user is more likely to see wet patches on the floor. In the future, there will be facial recognition, which automatically sets the user’s preferred lighting. You can also control the lighting with your voice. Lighting ideally needs to be dimmable to create different moods for ultimate relaxation. Different light levels are required depending on the time of day and use of the bathroom. Several lighting settings can be created, from bright and functional during the day, to dimmed lighting for long and relaxing soaks in the bathtub. Vary the lighting around the room to ensure there are no dark corners – use spotlights, recessed lighting over vanity units, plinth lighting and include some lights within the shower enclosure.
Explore The Home
Click on the below interactive house, to find out about future trends on all things accessibility in the home.