‘Finishing Touches.’ The touch-free future of our Public Toilets & Restrooms.

‘We want to make an impact on human wellbeing, by changing the definition of a toilet break. ‘ OneHundredRestrooms

How easy is it to lose touch? As demand for touchless products increases, could bathrooms be entirely touchfree and perhaps, more importantly since coronavirus could we see more TouchFree Public Toilets, office buildings and common public areas. This week we’ll take a brief look at everything from the more familiar touchfree moments, such as ‘automatic doors, taps, soap dispensers and hand dryers’ to the less imaginable ‘totally touchfree toilets’ featuring lids that open and close automatically, automated washing and drying functions, self-flushing and cleaning.

Public Inconvenience. A public inconvenience has recently been experienced, spotlighted and amplified by the closures of numerous public toilets following the outbreak of coronavirus. We touched on this in our article, ‘Beauty Spots’ where to go when there’s nowhere to go? ‘ on June 4th. Press and media reports on the subject caused much debate as closures headlined around the world. To distinguish, when we talk about ‘Public Toilets‘ we refer to old and new stand-alone ‘wash+WCs’ in parks or on street corners, which are by far the most challenging to manage and improve. The others, which we’ll refer to as ‘Toilets for the Public,’ are the ‘restrooms‘ that sit within shopping malls, airports (public transport hubs) and similar private/public spaces, petrol stations, restaurants, bars, hotels and offices. The majority of which are ordinarily far better managed by nature of their locations, constant checking, attendants, higher quality fixtures and fittings, hygiene and cleanliness, and the all-important key to their overall success… funding, or clever funding models.

Why do Public Toilets Matter? There’s reams of government information about the provision and accessibility of public toilets and the importance to us all as a society. Issues they addresses include; public health, older and/or disabled people, women, families with young children and tourists, hygiene, cleanliness, safety, privacy and of course funding. There’s equally as much written about the failures of public toilets in addressing those issues and about the lack of accessibility or sufficient number. In our modern day society public toilets should be a well-respected service for the community, providing a clean and hygienic, safe and welcoming environment. If they are not treated as such by the public, nor supported, funded, maintained and well managed by politicians, local governments, architects and planners alike, then it impacts our society and society suffers, particularly women, children and the disabled. Perhaps rather altruistically, better public toilets could be a catalyst for change in public opinion and perception about their worth and necessity. To give some perspective, for 2 billion people (25% of the world population) public toilets, access to water and/or any basic sanitation doesn’t even exist.

‘Back to the Future.’ As ever, the more cutting-edge technology, innovation and design that’s introduced and succeeds, the greater the chance of its increased use and integration on a grander scale. We’ll get back to the wider subject of the outside ‘Public Toilets‘ in another post. This week we wanted to showcase a Dutch company that we’ve been keeping an eye on and their vision for the future, ‘OneHundredRestrooms‘. One strapline is, ‘We Create Moments for Better Wellbeing‘ and since they started back in 2017 ‘health & hygiene’ has been part of their DNA. As health and hygiene is increasingly more relevant to us all, their concept to disrupt with a difference is succeeding by contributing to improved hygiene, sustainability and innovation whilst creating publicity, awareness and acceptance of a change for good. These days, where everything can be connected and smart, toilets and bathrooms remain a very undervalued and untapped area. However, they potentially offer the perfect environment and place to take care of yourself. As more and more people look for ways to monitor their complete well-being, and do so continuously, in privacy and without having to change their daily routines. Not forgetting in light of the global pandemic there’s now a general health-driven purpose to getting insights into personal and public health conditions. As recent epidemiology and science studies of waste have highlighted by acting as an early warning sign for coronavirus outbreaks.

The Motivational Mirror

OneHundredRestrooms. The OneHundredRestrooms concept can transform your trip to the bathroom into a visit to a wellbeing hub that offers and introduces new intelligent toilet technologies. These can provide insights into our personal health during a moment when we pause and refresh. It’s not all high-tech as the touchless products with sensors can partner those adaptations that can be operated by avoiding the need to touch surfaces with our hands i.e. foot-switches, or using our elbows or wrists. OneHundredRestrooms provides an environment in which you can take care of yourself and grab a little ‘me time.’ The experience includes; Roca In-Wash® Inspira Smart Toilets. There’s a self-check area offers solutions to monitor health indicators like weight, blood pressure, length and body mass index, or perform a skin analysis. The restrooms are kept super clean by their ‘comfort crew’ and are spacious, relaxing, soundproofed and ‘non-touch.’ You can buy all of your ‘on the go’ essentials such as baby diapers, tissues, tampons, plasters or first aid kit from their vending wall. There’s a disabled room, family and nursery rooms and even a shower room. Before you leave you can stop at the ‘motivational mirror’ while washing your hands, then give feedback at the rating pad and suggest improvements or ideas. These wellbeing hubs provide a ‘5-minute wellbeing boost,’ a far cry from our usual perceptions of public restrooms. In the near future OneHundredRestrooms plan to have; medical toilets, skin analyses, drowsiness detection, alcohol checks and a whole lot more.  To quote OneHundredRestrooms COO Andy Donaghy, “Feeling safe about the hygiene of public spaces is more important than ever. After all, hygiene and health go hand in hand.”

Technology. Experience. Environment. Good technology creates a desirable experience and should encompass environmental impact as high priority. Toilet and bathroom technology need to be part of a good experience, and with the knowledge you’re helping the environment. Appreciably, for domestic bathrooms, not everyone can afford a high tech smart toilet. For example, if you look at an early game-changer like the Neorest® NX2 from Toto Japan, (approx. $17,000) it clearly illustrates the technological possibilities with, wait for it… a self-cleaning retractable pinpoint accurate ‘wand’ (washlet) to wash and dry your rear (bits and butts) and you are in control of the pressure and temperature. It actively fights bacteria, waste and limescale by spraying a ‘pre-mist’ into the toilet bowl using electrolysed water to prevent waste from accumulating. The toilet bowl itself is coated with a special zirconium coating, the hydrophilic properties of which ensures that waste and bacteria are effectively eliminated. To add to the self-cleaning process and the pre-mist, there’s and an integrated UV light that combines with the zirconium coating to trigger the decomposition process, making a toilet brush unnecessary. It also has a number of additional convenient features, such as a sensor-based toilet lid that opens and closes automatically, a heated seat and a deodoriser to absorb unpleasant smells. Plus, (in case you were wondering) a remote control – ‘with no place to hide it!’

Is the New Night Out a Night In? However, that’s not all that ‘Smart Toilets‘ can do for you. The Grohe Sensia Arena has a ventilator system in the toilet that shields and extracts odours, before processing them through a carbon filter. There’s a lot of innovation and ideas out there right now and Kohler’s Numi 2 adds to the previous list of accessories; high-quality built-in speakers and lighting features that can be paired with the speakers to create different ‘spa-like’ environments within a bathroom space. An Amazon Alexa is built into the product and provides voice control of Numi’s features as well as access to tens of thousands of skills. But, regarding add-ons that keep you glued to your seat? I thought you were meant to be on and off the toilet PDQ as it’s the healthiest option for your undercarriage. Unless, in view of future social distancing, those speakers and multi coloured lights are the closest you’re going to get to a wild night out in Berlin? The focus has to be on the real benefits to ourselves and our families. That includes being touch-free, aiding health, our wellbeing and use of environmentally friendly services to save water, recycle or offer sustainability. Touchless products with sensor technology are ideal for this scenario. They avoid us touching surfaces and can also reduce water consumption, bringing us back to the perfect marriage of technology, experience and environment.

Our Daily Routine, parts 1, 2 and 3. I guess we’ve all had that experience when we’ve found a restroom that had something, or some ‘gadget’ that we went on to tell our friends or family about (my Dutch wife loves the serenity of the restroom at Schiphol Airport where you hear the sound of the sea, I like the picture of a fly, strategically positioned in the urinals.) The main point here is that amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life OneHundredRestrooms‘ concept is a personal ‘experience’ and it’s got lots of genuinely useful ‘gadgets.’ It is incredibly convenient and provides a really easy way to get a health check, whilst going about your normal business (no.’s 1 and 2.) For just €1 you can get an entry ticket with multiple benefits, visitors get all of the aforementioned services and even free drinking water. As the retail ads say, ‘it’s value for money.’ If you can add all that together as a no.3 during your toilet break, and do so in an oasis of calm and relaxation, then… ‘what’s not to like?’ It’s definitely my next ‘go to’… when it’s time to go!

[Thank you to Marielle Romejin, co-founder and Chief Brand Officer OneHundredRestrooms for use of the photos and her kind help with providing us with information for the above article.] We’ll be back next week.

Catching up on the recent news on loos & no. 2s…

Neanderthal to Now
‘Neanderthal to Now’ Squatting or Sitting on the Throne [from ‘All about Poo’]

Straighten the kink. With the UK Bank Holiday just past, on Friday we were discussing our patents pending for an attractive manufactured accessory to help lift your legs and mimic a squat when you sat on the toilet, straightening our colons. In fact that’s were our banner idea came from (above) ‘Neanderthal to Now.’ Interestingly the subject of how best to poop popped up again yesterday in a UNILAD article, ‘Only 11% Of People Poop The ‘Healthy’ Way, QS Supplies Study Finds‘ by Lucy Connolly. As per our own research and further medical evidence, ‘So then why is the footstool the way to go? Well, while sitting with your feet on the ground might relax the puborectalis muscle slightly, it still takes quite a bit of effort to push the waste through because the position of the rectum is still kinked up. However, if you introduce a footstool and sit with your knees up above the hips, leaning forward slightly, this kink is removed and the faeces is able to empty out quickly and thoroughly.’

Having taken up Friday’s post on that kinky business, we neglected to do our usual round up of the week’s news on loos and no. 2s so here it is:

Worth taking time out to watch… ‘Two Ply Over The Cuckoo’s Nest‘ is the grand prize winner of KQED’s Homemade Film Festival. A stop motion ode to quarantine made entirely out of toilet paper.

With a daily routine of exercising outside being a major help in times of lockdown, news keeps breaking on how people are managing, or not, with the public toilets being closed. So, from HuffPost‘s Doug O’Neill, ‘How To Pee And Poop Outdoors If Provincial Park Washrooms Are Closed.’

Waiter, there’s a poop in my soup. As practically every living creature poops, we also like to keep updated on their poop news too, so here’s a round up on ‘All Animals Poo and We Do Too’ with some news that may surprise or entertain you, take your pick. Firstly, ‘Shinohara has high hopes for a range of additional insect-based products, including beer made from crickets and a tea made from silkworm excrement.’ On Business Day, ‘Creepy-crawly soup, with silkworm-poo tea.’

Then in no particular order; In Science News, ‘Tapirs may be key to reviving the Amazon. All they need to do is poop‘ by Gloria Dickie. On ABC.net Australia, ‘Fish poo and gut goo are helping scientists eradicate a major pest on the Great Barrier Reef‘ Podcast [7mins] by Patricia Karvelas on RN Drive with Neil Byrne, preceded by some Kangaroo news. ‘This Is Why Magpie Poop Is Black And White‘ Gisela Kaplan for Gismodo. From BBC Earth [on Facebook] see, ‘First Year on Earth: Hyenas have white poo‘ [1min 24]. Death by Poop, ‘Ice Age giant sloths died in a pit of their own poop‘ by Mindy Weisberger for LiveScience. Finally, as it’s been all over the news this past two weeks, we’ve picked EcoWatch, ‘Antarctic Penguin Poop Emits Laughing Gas‘ by Jordan Davidson.

Adventures in the World of Human Waste. On that happy note regarding penguins, we’ll be back on Friday, and the following week we hope to have a catch up on ‘The Big Necessity‘ by Rose George, who in 2008 published the first popular study on the subject of the world of human waste. Apart from highlighting a few remarkable facts and observations from Rose, now, 12 years later what’s changed in solving the single biggest unsolved public health problem on the planet?