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Ready for the bathroom of tomorrow?


Bathroom floor tiles that weigh you, analyze your gait and evaluate your fall risk. Bathroom mirrors that initiate telehealth conferences based on your complexion or facial tics. Toilet seats that check your vitals (temperature, heart rate, oxygenation).
According to the Wall Street Journal, these marvels (and others – such as self-cleaning capacities and soothing infrared light) could be commonplace in upscale homes within the next decade.
If so – and if the restraining orders expire so I can actually visit some upscale homes – I will have experienced astounding progress in the world of indoor plumbing just in my own lifetime.
Our rural church building has had modern bathrooms for the past 50 years or so, but we still retain the heirloom concrete-block privy around back. The only fall risk it helped you measure was the likelihood of squirrels tumbling out of their nest.
In coming years, built-in chemical tests, downward-facing toilet bowl cameras and artificial intelligence will produce a wealth of information about urinary tract infections, glucose levels, vitamin levels, ovulation timing and the like.
Too Much Information, perhaps – especially if the AI expounds upon why your teenage son spends so much time in the shower.
Some manufacturers even envision electronic-nose technology to detect smells that could warn of disease. Hopefully, the AI will be programmed with a good bedside manner. (“You’re welcome to a second opinion; but in my estimation, something has crawled up inside you and died!”)
High-tech home spas will boast bathtub fog machines, aromatherapy capabilities, heated toilet seats and personalized bidet settings. (“Don’t invest in old-fashioned bidets from our competition. Ours are so customizable, you can clean out your ear wax while you’re at it!”)

I hope scientists don’t overthink one of life’s simple pleasures. Who wants to wrangle with cantankerous software just to wash their hands? (“Turn on the faucet? I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that. You have to prove you’re not a robot first. I don’t want you short-circuiting and suing my makers!”)
Even worse, faraway faceless bureaucrats could hack into the Internet of Things to enforce their edicts. (“Low-volume toilet flushes are a thing of the past. We’re going with micro-volume flushes now! Work up a good sweat – or two or three – and that should provide enough moisture to do the trick. Probably.”)
Proponents of smart-bathroom technology insist that we will keep our privacy, but data does have a way of traveling around the world. I can just imagine Chinese President Xi Jinping telling a subordinate, “Joe Blow has read the same magazine five times without even realizing it! We have got to launch an invasion of these American bozos!”
It’s a good thing the well-to-do are the initial marketing targets. It’s bad PR if a customer whines, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up – the money to keep this system working!”
On the other hand, maybe someone will act preemptively to stop the creation of another category of “haves” and “have nots.” Seriously, could Uncle Sam resist meddling? Inevitably, there will be a plethora of tax breaks and subsidies. We’ll even see the technology foisted upon the homeless population, although the test conditions could be chaotic.
“We got your lab results from the high-tech fire hydrant, Mr. Clancy. Your diabetes has mysteriously disappeared and you are going to be the proud mother of purebred puppies! Congratulations!”

Copyright 2024 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.