Source: USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO — You don’t have to wait for a major home renovation to make your bathroom routine a little more intelligent. From splash-resistant speakers to smart lights and high tech toilets, you can experiment with adding modern touches without breaking the bank.
Even those of us who can’t carry a tune in a bucket can let decent audio wash over us with the latest water-resistant speakers.
— Kohler’s Moxie wireless shower speaker is popping up on a lot of vacation gift idea lists. The speaker syncs with any Bluetooth-enabled device to stream music directly into the shower. The line recently expanded to include four bright colors. The speaker pod can be removed and used elsewhere. That means family members can share one speaker, or swap them in and out to take them on the go. The retail price lists at about $129 for a white speaker and stand.
— The Sonos Play:1 wireless speaker ($199) can be used on its own or integrated into a larger Sonos wireless home audio setup. About the size of a coffee can, the water-resistant speaker’s fully sealed design means it can fit easily into a bathroom (or kitchen, for that matter).
— Homewerks has another idea for filling your bathroom with sound: Stuff it in the ceiling fan. The company’s Bluetooth speaker bath fan connects to smartphones, tablets and Bluetooth-enabled laptops from up to 30 feet away. After the initial setup, the fan connects a device automatically when it is in range of the speaker. And the speaker is integrated directly into the bath fan wiring so there’s no need to re-charge it. It retails at around $149.
— Belkin’s WeMo Switch (around $50) and WeMo Light Switch (around $50) are quick and simple ways to add a little automation to the bathroom.
The WeMO Switch is a plug that lets you turn any of your electronics and appliances on or off from your phone. Simply pair the plugged-in appliance with the WeMo app on your smartphone (iOS and Android) and you’re all set. One handy example for the bathroom: Leave the house and forget to turn off your hair curling/flat iron? Use the WeMo app to check.
The Light Switch requires some basic electrical knowledge for installation, though it should be a quick job for a handy DIY’er or electrician. It lets you turn lights on or off from your phone.
SMARTER TOILETS, OF COURSE
It seems that Americans are finally starting to catch up with the rest of the world in venturing beyond a simple swipe to take care of business in the bathroom. Fixture makers Kohler and Toto each have entry-level takes on bidet-type toilets that are the very latest in personal hygiene.
— Toto’s Washlet is a seat that you can put on just about any toilet, says David Krakoff, the company’s president of sales for the Americas. Depending on the model, you get anything from a heated seat and cleaning wand that can adjust temperature and spray pressure to a remote control. The basic model retails at $649 but can be found discounted at around $400 or so if you shop around.
While bidets are something that Americans have tended to shy away from, Krakoff says that with education they are starting to catch on. Word of mouth helps drive sales as people experience them at the homes of friends, for instance. Sales of the company’s Washlets were up 60% over last year as of November, he says. The company has a higher-end line too, the Neorest, that add even more smart features.
— Kohler made a splash a couple of years ago with the pricey and elegant Numi smart toilet that rang in at a whopping $6,000 or so. The company’s C3 line (starting at around $800) provides a more down to earth path into bidet-type seats with some smart functionality. Features include user sensors, an energy-saving function, a nightlight and a lid that doesn’t slam.
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