Excuse me: IoT in the bathroom

Published on the 22/11/2018 | Written by Heather Wright

IoT data collection in bathroom

The results are in, and the benefits go beyond water efficiency…

A new report has highlighted just how far IoT is infiltrating our lives, or could do in the near future – and in this case, it’s the bathroom that could become the new playground for sensors.

While the initial reaction might be, ‘eww, no thanks’ the report by the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute of Sustainable Futures (ISF), prepared for GWA Bathrooms and Kitchens Group (the company behind the Caroma, Dorf and Fowler brands among others), highlights the potential gains for commercial buildings – and for public health.

The Bathroom of the Future draws on data provided from Caroma’s IoT bathroom solution, Smart Command, installed in a commercial application, and looks at ways that data could be leveraged to create efficiencies that go beyond water savings.

“Innovation in our industry has lagged behind other critical resources, such as electricity and lighting.”

Smart Command includes taps, urinals and flush panels that collect data on water consumption, pressure, usage and maintenance in commercial buildings. The data can be accessed from a mobile app, or integrated into existing building management systems or cloud platforms to enable remote monitoring so building managers can immediately detect and repair faults – or organise more timely cleaning.

Dr Stephen Cummings, Caroma Innovation Director and inventor of the Smart Command system (and dual flush toilets), says while advancements in smart technology have transformed the ability to monitor and manage other critical resources and functions in digital buildings, such as power, lighting and ventilations, similar opportunities in commercial water management ‘have yet to be unlocked – at least until now’.

In launching Smart Command, GWA Group CEO Tim Salt, also noted that “Innovation in our industry has lagged behind other critical resources, such as electricity and lighting.” He dubbed bathroom IoT ‘the final frontier in smart, sustainable building management’.

Water efficiency is a key focus for the report, which notes that real-time performance management enables faults to be quickly and accurately identified and rectified, minimising water leakage and improving water conservation.

The report’s authors note smart bathroom fixtures could be utilised in similar ways to smart lighting, providing data on traffic through bathrooms to enable facilities managers to direct cleaning staff to the most used areas and optimise cleaning and maintenance schedules, or restricting access automatically when faults are identified. Fault management – including sudden changes in patterns of use which can indicate faults ­– and monitoring of water pressures to provide lower levels, are also options, while diagnostics can be used to highlight user preferences.

But the report also notes the opportunity to improve public health through smart use of the technology: Taps lighting up with different colours to encourage the appropriate length of time for handwashing in high risk areas such as childcare, hospitals, schools or food prep areas, or the lighting up of a tap after a toilet has been flushed as a prompt to encourage handwashing.

“It is evident that the collection of data from smart appliances and fixtures is not limited to the fixture or bathroom alone, and can provide insights at broader scales, including increasing efficiency, detection of faults, determining cleaning requirements and boarder public health considerations such as hand-washing behaviour.”

The report notes that this can be taken beyond the bathroom and building to precinct and city scales, including providing insights for precinct planning, smart recycled water tariffs and time of day billing.

So now, perhaps, there’s a legitimate excuse for taking your mobile phone to the bathroom.

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