2006 February 05 Sunday
Bathrooms Get Mini-Offices And Automation

An article in the Wall Street Journal explores how technology is making the bathroom into a mini-office for many hard chargers.

With a BlackBerry, two mobile phones, three office computers and wireless Internet for his car, Greg Shenkman is never far from his work. But recently the CEO of San Francisco-based Exigen Group eked out more productivity by wiring the final frontier: his bathroom.

When Mr. Shenkman answers the speaker-phone in his shower, the water automatically shuts off. He can open the front door for deliveries while shaving. He's also put the finishing touches on a waterproof computer that will let him answer emails from his sauna. "I took Gates a little too literally," he says. "The flow of information never stops."

I want flat screens embedded in various room walls that'd let me see outside cameras very quickly to see why the dog is barking. The display software ought to use motion sensors to first show me the cameras most likely to explain the dog's barking. Ideally the dog's collar direction could provide info about which direction he's looking at so that camera could be brought up in, say, the shower wall flat panel.

How about a vanity mirror that doubles as an LCD display?

Manufacturer Acquinox of New York says sales of its steam shower/whirlpool units -- a hands-free phone is standard in each -- nearly tripled last year to 14,800 modules. Wisconsin-based Seura, meanwhile, reports rising sales of its vanity mirrors, which feature LCD screens in the glass. The mirrors, starting at $2,400, let users check their tie-knot, then flip a switch to watch the embedded TV.

Another trend I'm expecting is the development of sensor technology that turns the bathroom into the most intensely sensor-equipped automated medical diagnostic center of the house. The whole house will become instrumented with medical diagnosis sensors. But the bathroom, since it gets access to bodily fluids (and also skin and hair in the bathtub), is a great place to put lots of nanosensors that will detect disease, malnutrition, and other health problems. Further down the line most of us will eventually instrument our bodies with nanotech devices floating around the bloodstream. Those in-body sensors will send reports to the house computer network. That LCD display in the bathroom mirror will pop up your lipid profile, a body pathogen report, how far behind you are in sleep, and recommendations for foods that will address developing nutrient deficiencies.

My own fairly low tech method to save time in the bathroom is to use two Norelco shavers at once while shaving, one in each hand. I want to get some sort of mounting bracket built for a pair of shavers to make iit possible to operate 2 shavers in each hand and shave that much more rapidly. Ideally I'd prefer a hands free full face shaver that could shave just about all the regularly shaved area at once. If I could free up my hands then I could type at a computer (or perhaps brush my teeth or button my shirt) and shave at the same time.

Think about all the 1 or 3 or 5 minute tasks you do each day at home. If you could parallelize some of those tasks the times savings would add up. 3 minutes saved per day is an hour and a half per month or 18 hours per year. 12 minutes saved per day would be 6 hours per month or 72 hours per year. Got any ideas for how to automate home life? I'm always looking for ways to save time.

By Randall Parker    2006 February 05 04:13 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (15)
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