The bathroom is often overlooked in the world of product design. While architects focus heavily on creating a memorable bathroom, technology companies have all but overlooked bathrooms as an opportunity for innovation. Companies like Kohler have been making some astonishing leaps with sensor-filled toilets and bluetooth shower heads, but is there room to drastically innovate the rest of the bathroom?
Designers must consider people with varying degrees of disabilities when designing a product or service. The bathroom in you home should be accessible by people of all ages and disabilities so that users do not feel excluded or embarrassed by products, but empowered by them.
To get an understanding of how accessible a typical apartment bathroom is, I took to using a wheeled office chair to quickly get a sense of what was inadequate about using my bathroom from a seated position. I quickly found that getting into the bath tub was quite difficult, and accessing the temperature control was quite a reach. In a slippery environment, reaching and losing your balance can be a big problem.
We began evaluating all the pain points of using the bathroom, all the products that people encounter and all their price points and features that distinguish them in a crowded market.
From there we began thinking about managing the waste from using the bathroom. We didn't want to limit ourselves to managing the literal waste in our bathrooms (feces and urine) but we wanted to focus on everything that is wasted in the bathroom. How can we conserve toilet paper, the grey water in our toilets and showers and repurpose it — or better yet, how can we encourage people to be more conservative?
Our fascination with technology and materials led us to Corning's "A Day Made of Glass" where we saw a glimpse of the future, and how intelligent surfaces could lead to a more interactive and immersive experience in our day to day activities.
Combining the ideas of water conservation and smart glass, our team starting thinking about an interactive (and even competitive) experience between families to encourage spending less time in the shower, saving money and water at the same time.
How would users interact with this product? Plotting out the UI and eliminating unnecessary components lead to a simple and intuitive interface. Users can swipe up or down to adjust the temperature, and the shower's glass will slowly fill up as you shower, to indicate your water usage.
Here's a quick video to give you a feel for the user interface, and how a user might interact with the shower of the future. This is a collaborative project with Kaila Pettis, Zhenmin Li, Andrew Haglund, and Sanny Lin.