Normally, bathroom tech at CES tends to be an assortment of wacky toilets, bathroom fixtures with Alexa crammed in, and showerheads that help you save water. That’s still mostly true this year, but with CES 2021 going completely virtual due to the pandemic, Kohler’s showcase poses a timely question: What if your bathroom was super luxe, but also touchless?
The logic makes sense, even if the price tags might not. After a year of lockdowns, you’ve probably spent a fair amount of time zoning out in your bathroom and want to feel comfy. Perhaps, you’re a bit more squicked out at the thought of poo particles and germs floating around. Maybe you dread the day you’ll eventually have guests at home again and their germy poo particles will linger in your bathroom.
On the toilet front, Kohler has the Innate Intelligent Toilet, which is exactly what it sounds like. The toilet includes a heated seat and automatically opens and closes, so you don’t have to actually touch the lid. There’s also a remote to control the toilet, as well as a “personal bidet.” These are all things that maybe sounded unnecessary before 2020, but now kind of make sense. This is meant to be Kohler’s “entry-level smart toilet” with a “more affordable price.” Affordability, however, is relative. The Innate Intelligent Toilet’s estimated price is $US3,100 ($4,001), which sounds ridiculous, but then again, Kohler’s ritzier Numi 2.0 Intelligent toilets go for upwards of $US7,000 ($9,034). To be fair, they feature “personalised cleaning,” RGB mood lighting, and let you stream music from the can.
For the rest of us who can only dream of dropping several thousand on a toilet, Kohler has its Touchless Toilets line, which lacks a personalised bidet and the rest of the bells and whistles, but you can wave your hand over the flusher and it’ll whisk your gastrointestinal war crimes down the drain. It has a sensor light so you know when it’s been activated, and the light will also flash when the toilet’s refilling. These babies are expected to launch this March and will range from $US600 ($774)-$US1,000 ($1,291), depending on the model and style.
Smart toilets are cool and all, but Kohler’s also launching some new touchless faucets — sort of like the ones you find in a public restroom, but a smidge nicer. The faucets come in two variations: one that Kohler dubs a “complete solution” and another that’s actually a little puck. The former has the sensor above the faucet and can double as a digital dial to control water temperature. The latter is if you want to retrofit an older Kohler faucet. (It might work on non-Kohler faucets too, though of course Kohler warns there’s no guarantee.) It involves installing a control module beneath the countertop and then mounting the puck near the faucet itself. The idea is you can wave your hand over the puck and, voila!, you’ve upgraded your dumb faucet into a smarter one for a fraction of the price of a full smart set-up. Kohler says the estimated price is about $US200 ($258)-$US500 ($645), again depending on the model, and that they’ll be available to order in December.
But the big kahuna is this ridiculous Stillness Bath. For about $US16,000 ($20,650) you too can sink into a deep, luxurious bath complete with its own fog machine, aromatherapy dispenser, RGB lighting, and uh, a “Hinoki wood mote” to catch the water overflow, which then gets recycled into your bath again. The tub also has a “smart soak” feature that lets you determine the depth and temperature of the water and allows you to start a bath remotely. The design is inspired by Japanese baths and is supposed to turn your bathroom into a spa-like environment. Provided you’re good with forking over 16 G’s, you’ll also have to be OK with completely remodeling your bathroom. Kohler says to get the full shebang, you’ll need to redesign your bathroom around the tub to accommodate the grate and circulation system.
If you’re not OK with doing that, there are three cheaper, free-standing bath versions. The cheapest Soak Freestanding Bath goes for $US6,200 ($8,002). It doesn’t require you to completely remodel your bathroom, but you’re also not going to get that fog effect and aromatherapy. The Smart Soak Freestanding Bath goes for $US8,700 ($11,228) and gets you the smarter programming features. The Experience version gets you everything but the grate. It also costs a whopping $US11,000 ($14,197).
Obviously, most of us don’t have the means to buy into Kohler’s smart luxury bathroom vision. But CES isn’t always about what’s realistic or affordable — it’s about showcasing concepts that hopefully, make their way down to actually affordable gadgets. One day, maybe we’ll all get to soak in RGB tubs that spew calming lavender-scented fog or have toilets that automatically do the flushing for us. One day.