Thursday, March 11, 2010

We Are Falling Behind

      When it comes to hi-tech innovation, there is no doubt that the USA is among the leaders. Computers, the Mac and the PC - both American inventions - are ubiquitous throughout the world. And such items as the iPod, xBox and GPS all attest to the innovativeness of American technical know-how.
      But there is one area of technical expertise where we are rapidly falling behind: toilet technology. According to an article posted yesterday on MCNBC, toilets outside the US are undergoing rapid technological upgrading, and as to the race to be first on the market, we are so far in the rear that we may never catch up. If we don’t do something, our toilet industry will be wiped out.
      Not surprisingly, the Japanese are occupying the leadership throne in this field. Some of their public toilets almost require an instruction manual in order to handle their control panel. Likewise in Europe there are some really snazzy models. Here are a few examples of the bells and whistles available overseas:

• Heated seats, a very popular item, particularly in Northern Europe.

• Sound effects, usually sounds of nature, in order to give the user privacy. (I hope if they decide to go to music, they don’t play the Star Spangled Banner.)

• Built-in bidets, available in either pulsating or oscillating styles. Come complete with automatic warm air dryer.

• Motion sensitive lids that go up or down automatically. The down feature is called the “marriage saver.”

• Self cleaning seats.

• Self sanitizing seats.

• Multiple choice handles, complete with instructions. Pull up for number one, push down for number two. Saves water.

• Smart toilets that perform urinalysis. They can be set to perform a specific test, e.g., diabetes, and transmit the results wirelessly to your computer or doctor.

      In the event you are interested in any of these features, they are available on the internet. A really cool model can cost upwards of several thousand dollars – a retrofit seat with bells but no whistles starts at about $500.
      Obviously American toilet makers need to do some catching up in order to avoid being caught with their pants down. Figuratively, of course.

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