Technology has creeped into just about every room of the house. Apps and more general remote controls now make it possible to manipulate many of the creature comforts of modern life. The bathroom, however, remains largely untainted. It's also a place where everyone (paperback readers excepted) wants to do their business and go rather quickly.
Craving something more technologically advanced than SEGA's forthcoming Urinal challenge game ('Toylet'), Ideal Standard International have recently published a report that speculates upon the possibilities of technology in the bathroom. And the ideas they've come up with make the typical Japanese toilet seat look like a plank of wood rested on a rusty bucket.
Least inspiring of all in the report is the idea that the Bathroom might become a more 'social space', which is frankly ridiculous. A mirror that allows for video conferencing with friends and family might work in any other room, but what if you forgot to hang up before going to the toilet? And why would anyone willing put a computer controlled camera in a private space, and give it internet access? That's just asking for trouble.
Using the bathroom as something of a data sink seems somewhat more believeable and useful. Imagine a shower curtain that displays RRS feeds, the weather and everything else you need to know in the morning. Your bathroom tiles could be employed for the same purpose - features that could even make the smartphone slightly redundant.
Yet, the need for bathroom privacy will still surely limit the extent of this technology. You could have a wall beaming the morning breakfast news show into your bathroom, but do you really want sofa-sitting pundits staring back at you whilst you strip off to stand under the shower for half an hour? There are good ways and bad ways of presenting information in an intimate space.
Text would be a more interesting proposition. But even then, there are certain subjects I simply don't want to read about when I'm showering. There's also the issue of legibility. Not just the fact that you've got to look through water and steam. How much can you actually be bothered to read when you're having a scrub?
Relaxation is something that bathroom technologies could arguably and usefully improve. Backdrops of a serene ocean could be played through giant video walls. Smells could be matched to a person's mood and even the floor could use programmable textures to give the impression of being on sand or warm rock.
Some particularly blue sky thinking suggested that occupant shape-able walls could be pulled out to create basins and taps. Exactly what materials would make up these walls isn't exactly clear. And whilst impressive, this level of futurism is akin to the 'space habitat' speculations of the sixties and seventies.