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2010 PCBC Show: Home Technology Finds for the Bathroom

by Lori Cunningham

I attended this year’s PCBC (Pacific Coast Builder’s Conference) in May.  PCBC is a tradeshow and conference focusing on homebuilding needs for builders in the Pacific Coast.  It’s held every year in San Francisco.  It showcases everything from nail systems to solar panels to tankless water heaters to appliances.

While I was at the show, I met with several different manufacturers to learn more about their technology offerings for homeowners.  In the next several posts I’ll give a brief review of some of the interesting finds I discovered at the show.  This article will focus on how technology is making the bathroom “smarter.”

Toilets
I was very interested in learning what possible technology was available in an unlikely product – toilets.  I knew that if any company had progressed in this manner, it had to be TOTO.  I can surely say that I was not disappointed.  Toilets have come a long way!

I was happy to discover that TOTO’s Neorest toilet collection include plugs that must be plugged into a wall outlet.  This can be problematic, as most of today’s bathrooms do not have a plug near the toilet.  If you’re building a new home and you have a desire to have the most talked about toilet on your block, mark your plans for a plug in the bathroom!

The Neorest Collection features many toilets from a retrofit toilet seat that can fit most toilets, called a Washlet, to a complete stand alone toilet that commands respect.  The entire Neorest toilet collection features a built-in bidet with pressure control, a heated dryer, a warmed seat, soft closing lid, and a remote control, which mounts on the wall next to the toilet.  The toilet seat includes built-in technology that learns it’s users’ habits and warms the seat according to their usage patterns.  I have to say I was very impressed with the feature set.

No longer do homeowners need to have a separate toilet and bidet – the Neorest toilet combines the two taking up less room and making it more convenient.  If you’re interested in getting the top-of-the-line Neorest toilet, seeking the “King of the Throne” status, the Neorest 600 is the toilet for you.  In addition to the features above, it includes

  • a dual-flush cyclone flush engine with automatic sensing
  • automatic flush and lid closing – you no longer need to remember if you flushed or not
  • cleaning mode – a flick of a switch starts the unique cyclone rim scouring motion which engages for a full minute to clean the bowl without having to flush
  • automatic toilet lid opening upon sensing homeowners approach
  • automated seat lifter with a press of a button, convenient for men
  • automated seat closer – deemed a “marriage saver” by TOTO – another convenience for men
  • built-in mp3 player to disguise unpleasant noises (speakers not included)

Japan is far more advanced than America in their toilet technologies.  TOTO, a Japanese company, is leading the way to bringing America the toilet of the 21st century.  Prices range from $500+ for the Washlet (retrofit seat) to over $5,500 for the Neorest 600.  For my first impression of the Neorest toilet, see the article I wrote for AT&T entitled, Not Your Father’s Toilet.

Shower Controls
At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) I attended earlier this year in Vegas, I discovered Moen’s new ioDIGITAL line.  I was immediately fascinated at how Moen married water with technology.  Moen’s ioDIGITAL line includes controls for vertical spas, showers, and Roman tubs and allows homeowners to create custom presets for preferred water temperature and water flow.

The ioDIGITAL device requires electricity to run the controls.  The electronic valve which moderates the hot and cold water and requires electricity, can be installed near the shower or up to 30 feet away for retrofit flexibility.

One dial on the ioDIGITAL control manages the temperature while the other dial sets the water flow.  Once you find the right blend of the two, you can press one of four preset buttons to customize your setting.  Three other family members can do the same and have their own custom preset button.  So if you like your shower extremely hot and with full water flow, once you press your customize preset button, your shower will deliver this setting for you every time.  If your wife prefers less water flow and a warmer temperature, she can press her custom preset button before stepping into the shower.  No need to be present to adjust the water temperature for your kids any longer – they’ll know which button to press to get the right amount of heat.
Vertical Shower
The Vertical Shower comes packaged with a big 7″ rainshower showerhead, a handheld showerhead, four sprays, and the ioDIGITAL control.  The ioDIGITAL control allows a homeowner to easily set the temperature and waterflow of all the water dispersing components.  The Moen ioDIGITAL Vertical Shower retails for $2407, depending upon the finish (chrome, oil rubbed bronze, etc.).

Shower

The Shower package comes with a big 7″ rainshower showerhead and the ioDIGITAL control.  It retails for $1,067.45, depending upon finish.

Roman Tub
The Roman Tub comes with the spout and ioDIGITAL control.  The Roman Tub only has three presets.  To set your custom presets, adjust your preferred temperature and then allow the water to fill the tub.  Once the tub is filled to your preferred water level, set your preset.  Now, in the future, just press your preset button and leave.  The tub will be filled at your preferred temperature and water level, then shut off automatically.  Very cool.  It even has a water top-off feature that when pressed, pours in more hot water to warm the bath before you enter.  The Roman tub also features a childlock feature which allows you to lock the water supply to the tub.  If children try to turn on the water, nothing happens.  By pressing the two dials at once, adults can use the water again.  

I love the fact that you can easily get  the exact temperature and water flow you desire with a touch of the button.  Moen’s entire ioDIGITAL line also includes a pause button.  So you can pause your shower why you dart across the room to get your forgotten towel or talk to your toddler banging on the shower door.  Furthermore, Moen has an optional remote control that makes ioDIGITAL even more killer for us lazy ones on a cold morning.  Most of us need to wait a couple of moments before heated water starts flowing through a shower.  If your ideal is to leap from bed straight to a heated shower, then this remote control will do the trick.  Simply press your preset button on the remote control from bed, wait a couple of moments, then make a dash for the shower.  Now that’s what I call convenience!

But wait, there’s more!  If you install the Roman Tub ioDIGITAL and purchase the RF remote control ($159), you can be downstairs in the family room, press your preset button on the remote and the tub will be filled up as per your preferences. Technology can really spoil us, can’t it?

The Moen ioDIGITAL control is certainly a luxury but I have a feeling once you try it, it becomes a necessity you can’t live without.  We are installing both the Vertical Shower and the Shower ioDIGITAL controls in the house we are building.  Once the house is completed, I will be able to give you a full review.  Oh, and yes, we did get a remote control for the shower in the master bedroom!

Stay tuned for further articles on home technology finds from the 2010 PCBC Show!  If you have used TOTO Neorest toilets or the Moen ioDIGITAL line and would like to write a review, please contact us!

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