By David Benjamin
LAS VEGAS — If you don’t think there’s serious science in the development of the total toilet, you haven’t talked to Bill Strang, president of operations and e-commerce at Toto USA. Toto’s newest superjohn, the Neorest NX1 dual-flush “smart washlet” partakes of hydrophilic science, lubricity studies, and tribology to counteract the modern porcelain indoor flush toilet’s worst enemy — hydraulic adhesion.
In sum, a lot of thought has gone into Toto’s latest pride and joy, partly because — as Strang notes with a knowing smile — the Japanese, some of whom started Toto, are “fanatical” about bathroom hygiene.
“Everything we’ve learned through all the years of developing washlets has brought us to the ultimate washlet,” said Strang. Toto’s booth at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was large but tastefully uncluttered. In perhaps a gesture of Zen minimalism, rather than display Toto’s vast product line of bathroom fixtures, the company focused on the new Neorest NX1.
“It’s functional, with a great aesthetic, sort of like a river rock,” said Strang, summoning up his own Zen sensibilities, “with a nice organic feel.”
Toto is one of a host of household fixture, plumbing, and appliance companies displaying products that feature advanced material science and vastly improved performance, many of them integrated with artificial intelligence (AI) elements.
Strang rattled off the many virtues of the Neorest washlet, including a keenly engineered ceramic surface to which nothing can stick (all that lubricity), and a post-flush “wand” that thrusts itself into the bowl to do a second cleanup. The new washlet is, of course, heated and intuitive. The seat will lift when it senses anyone approaching. Its “bidet function” is a complicated mix of firm and gentle spray that oscillates, sometimes soothingly and sometimes more aggressively, Strang noted. A remote control manages all the washlet’s functions.
Included in the hardware is a second nozzle, “for girls, in the front,” said Strang. “It’s softer and more comfortable.”
He summed up Toto’s development of a toilet that goes way beyond “minimal” as the result of a “scientific approach for cleaning yourself efficiently, for a more comfortable and delightful experience” in the bathroom.
Strang added to the discussion by describing Toto’s collaboration with good2go, a San Francisco company that is installing safe toilets, accessible only with a QR code provided through a subscription-based smartphone app, in locations like Whole Foods and Peet’s Coffee. Trials of these toilets have been successful, with favorable responses from users and a drastic reduction in “toilet incidents” like drug abuse and assault.
Toto is also partnering with Georgia Pacific, a supplier of toilet tissue and paper towels, to monitor use of restrooms in large venues like stadiums and airports. An AI-based system being tested at Hartsfield/Jackson Airport in Atlanta has yielded new efficiencies in restroom maintenance, better morale among custodial staff, and “actual empirical data for building better public bathrooms.”
In short, Toto’s commitment to good toilets is total.