Ideal Standard has released an interesting article about the bathroom of the future and how it is likely to evolve using technology and social media! The article provoked some interesting and vocal debate in the office. As for 2011, Trading Depot sells a full range of the existing Ideal Standard range of bathroom products. This is the article:
An independent report into the future of the bathroom by the Future Laboratory has revealed the paradox that our bathroom is set to become in ten years time. Commissioned by Europe’s leading bathroom provider, Ideal Standard International, the report assessed the features, products, experiences and services we can expect to see in the bathroom within the next decade as well as the diverse ways in which we will use them.
The report shows that our attitudes towards shared and private space are changing; we want a bathroom that adapts to suit our changing moods. The bathroom of the future will become a paradox to the consumer of today, offering us both solitude and sociability.
The Future Laboratory surveyed 1,500 homeowners on their attitudes and needs and the type of technology being developed to respond to this. Research shows we spend 13 days a year in the bathroom – however, it is the last room in the house to respond to social changes. The advancement of digital technologies is set to affect beauty and grooming rituals, and the way in which we manage both our health and the environment around us.
The bathroom is currently a space we use to get away from it all. Ten million people in the UK people say that their work/life balance has suffered as a result of the financial crisis. Four in 10 (41%) UK consumers use the bathroom as a place to relax. The bathroom has become a refuge from the pressures of modern life, ‘a sanctuary and a place to escape’, comments designer Robin Levien.
Designers are already developing new ways to fully engage our senses. According to the report, this will be a driving force in how the bathroom will look – in the future we will be transported into our favourite natural environment, away from the daily deluge of information. Imagine being able to walk into the bathroom and feel as if we’re in a rainforest or lush meadow, bathing underneath a waterfall or stepping through fresh grass or feeling water like petals or the heat of the sun on your skin all year round.
The bathroom of the future will surround us with nature using scents, sounds and tactile experiences to mimic nature and engage all the senses:
- Touch – Tactile showers that will both cleanse and exfoliate the body
- Smell – Scents will be designed to recreate happy memories to help us smell the past and the memories associated with it
- Touch – Haptic technology will be used to that simulate touch, making digital screens feel rough, sticky or slippery acc
- ording to our preference
- Sound – 3D sounds will immerse us and allow us to escape technology
- Taste – Programmable surfaces will give us the ability to change the texture of our exfoliating brush and specific taste of our toothpaste
- Sight – Choosing the backdrop for our bathing experience through interactive surfaces
The research, technologies and products to enable these choices are already emerging with the introduction of augmented reality. Material designer Marie Rouillon’s has developed a series of cups that look identical but are different to the touch, while at Keio University in Japan an electric lollipop lets you taste fireworks or a desired flavour. Designer Esther Yaloz’s illustrations of flowers on fabric use thermochromic and photochromic textile dyes to react to light and touch. Fragrance chemist Roman Kaiser is already capturing and preserving the scents of endangered plants, so that they can be recreated synthetically in the future.
The bathroom of the future will also be a social space in which users can stay connected to their friends and family, multi-tasking and sharing their experiences through multi-media and across social networks. More than a fifth (22%) of adults and nearly half (47%) of teenage smartphone owners answer calls or use their handset in the bathroom?
The sociable bathroom experience is inevitable for digital natives, who already live and breathe this connectivity. A quarter (24%) of people in the UK already wishes the time they spend in their bathroom could be more sociable. The ways in which consumers will be able to do this in the future will be vast as technology continues to rapidly evolve and include;
- Making it easier for people to decide when, how and with whom they want to connect from the comfort of their bathroom
- Opt-in technology will be part of the bathroom experience and help digital natives connect to their friends and family
- Augmented reality covers will protect our modesty when making video calls or chatting online
- Social networking in the shower or bath will become the norm
- Motion-controlled gaming in the bath
- An E Ink shower curtain will help us catch up with the news or browse the internet. Flexible touchscreens containing graphene means the shower curtain of the future will have the potential to display both today’s news and your friends’ Facebook updates
‘The mind is becoming more capable of micro-interactions and moving from one channel to another channel: I’m tweeting, then I’m Facebooking, then I’m sending a couple of emails, then I’m back to Twitter. Those cycles and patterns are becoming quite pervasive for Digital Natives,’ says Matthew Bagwell, global creative director, EMC Consulting, and founder of The Fantastic Tavern, where digital planners and creatives meet to share insights and ideas.
As a space where many people go to relax (25%), or just to take a break, combined with the rapid rise of constant connectivity and media multi tasking, will make the bathroom an obvious entertainment centre. We are seeing the rapid rise of constant connectivity and media multi-tasking. People are watching multiple screens and playing games on their mobiles, more than eight in 10 of UK and US mobile-media users are using their TVs and computers simultaneously. Designers are responding to this and developing new forms of entertainment that will influence the bathroom of the future. For example, Romy Design has created an interactive mirror for children, which enables them to play with characters and be part of the story, using touch screen and motion-capturing software.
The paradox of using the bathroom to both switch on and switch off, combined with the advancement of technology, will lead us to choose exactly what we want from our bathroom experience in the next decade – stretching far beyond the realm of just cleansing and bathing.