Smart bathrooms bring efficiency, comfort to the home

How smart is your bathroom?

Once called the “necessary room,” the bathroom is not the first room that comes to mind when a high-tech home remodel is mentioned; however, the market for smart bathrooms is booming.

According to Sandler Research, the global smart bathroom market is expected to grow at a 10.43 percent compound annual growth rate over the next four years. Whether the objective is energy conservation, convenience or luxury, more families are building or remodeling homes with innovative bathroom features.

Sustainability is one factor driving the high-tech bathroom surge. Features like automated faucets, toilets and soap dispensers help to reduce waste and conserve energy. A bathroom can even have smart windows installed that reduce energy costs by maximizing the use of natural light.

Some homeowners upgrade their bathrooms looking for convenience and better personal care. A study by market research institute GfK found that people spend an average of four hours per week on personal grooming. An upgrade like the Smart Body Analyzer from Withings takes the bathroom scale to a new level by uploading weight, body fat and heart rate measurements to your phone. The scale’s companion app charts the data and tracks progress.

Even toothbrushes are getting smarter. By connecting to your phone or tablet, an electric toothbrush can record brushing activity that you can analyze and share with your dentist. Smart toothbrushes notify you when you have brushed long enough and congratulate you when your habits improve. They will even tell you if you’re brushing too hard.

Conservation, convenience and personal care are common reasons for making the bathroom smarter, but some homeowners are primarily looking for luxury. Houzz produced a 2016 study of bathroom trends that examined the most popular features in remodeled bathrooms. The findings were summarized in a press release.

“Our recent industry and consumer studies show an uptick in discretionary projects and spending in several areas of the home, including bathrooms,” says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “The Bathroom Trends study sheds light into what is behind the spending increase in renovations of these rooms, including a rise in high-tech and luxury features.”

The most popular features are high-tech toilets that are self-cleaning, have motion-activated seats and hands-free flushing. Homeowners are also installing tubs with built-in heated back rests and automated sound and vibrations. Luxury showers include digital controls, built-in sound and showerheads with integrated speakers or LED lighting.

At the high end of bathroom luxury is a collection of interactive mirrors that improve conservation, aid personal grooming and add convenience. These high-tech mirrors can record your daily, weekly and monthly water usage. Some measure height, weight and body mass, view all angles of an outfit, see the back of your hair or zoom in to apply makeup. Others receive text messages, check traffic updates and report the day’s weather before you leave for work. There are even mirrors that double as a TV.

Participants in the study indicated that they spend 30 to 60 minutes per day in their home bathrooms. Over half of those surveyed said they check email and social media, listen to music or read during that time. The trend to hang out and relax in the bathroom has led to a rise in bathroom entertainment features.

The television is becoming a standard bathroom feature, and waterproof TVs are made just for that purpose. You can catch the morning news while you get ready for work or relax at the end of the day in a bubble bath while watching a movie.

Not all smart bathroom features require high budgets. Automatic mist dispensers are a lower-budget upgrade that keep your bathroom fresh by releasing essential oils at programmed intervals. For those who like to sing in the shower, a waterproof speaker that connects to your phone is ideal. The BOOM Swimmer Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker can be immersed for up to 30 minutes in 3 feet of water.

Whether a bathroom has a few high-tech gadgets or thousands of dollars in upgrades, one thing is certain: The bathroom has evolved far beyond a room that is simply necessary.