Karten Design Reenvisions the Bathroom: Health Hub of the Future

The next evolution of the smart home will transform the place we live into a health hub–a smart, connected responsive environment that will help us improve our wellness and help us live more fulfilling lives. For years, we have studied people’s ceremonies around toileting and hygiene, which makes us believe that the bathroom is poised to become the epicenter of the health hub of the future. We are actively envisioning concepts that will bring meaning to this new era of connectivity in the bathroom.

A bathroom is a unique place. We use it our entire lives, in privacy. If the TV is the “hearth of the home” the bathroom is really the health hub of the home–it’s our pharmacy, first aid station, rehab center, and a diagnostic lab. Although toilets and sinks and showers haven’t changed much over the years, that’s about to change.

Technology for health and wellness is moving out of the hospital and into the home, from tracking weight to monitoring glucose, to testing blood. Healthcare in the home has traditionally centered on illness and aging and we are seeing that technology is enabling the definition of “home health” to expand into other areas of our lives. Home health isn’t just about adapting to the signs of aging or managing a chronic condition anymore.

Karten Design would like to think of the bathroom of the future more like a coach, a teacher, or a caregiver, beyond just a room full of devices, each busily gathering data and sending it to the cloud. As a result, we have envisioned what the bathroom of the future’s role might look like in each of our life stories, across a couple of these stages of life.

For the awkward adolescent years, imagine if the bathroom of the future gave us the information we never had, such as an integrated IR camera that analyzes our skin, an augmented reality-enhanced mirror that shows us key problem areas, and AI-enhanced customized treatment plans. Like a good teacher, the bathroom will provide us tools and techniques that empower us to pick up good habits, including digital projections synced with our calendars that will track progress and reduce stress, customize bathroom temperature that’s ideal for skin care, or even suggest products that are custom formulated for us.

For the journey of having a baby, the bathroom will be there every day to help guide both partners through a happy, healthy, successful pregnancy. The bathroom will take charge of cycle tracking and can support the couple both together and separately during the conceiving process. Beyond sensors and tracking, the bathroom of the future will also be reconfigurable to deal with physical challenges during pregnancy. Lighting can be tuned to deal with headaches/light sensitivity, and countertops, faucets, and seating can accommodate that baby bump.

As we get older, we need a personal caregiver that looks out for our health. During this stage, the bathroom of the future will utilize an interconnected suite of connected, smart products, which will work in the background over the years as we just go through our ordinary routines. Our shower will use 3D body scanning to track hygiene, body shape, and skin changes. Our Toilet will be watching for the earliest invisible evidence of colon cancer. Our floor will measure our, balance and gait to eliminate falls and cameras in our mirrors will use facial scanning and brain games to run neuro-cognitive tests.

The world isn’t at a loss for “smart devices” that leverage new technologies, algorithms, devices, treatments, and insights. Our goal is to put them all together to work for us in ways that empower us and make life better. We think the bathroom of the future can become the character in our lives that will unobtrusively teach, coach and watch over us. It will change with us as we age, understand what makes us tick, and never stop working for us.