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The Bathroom Goes Digital

By Sarah Klein
I think of the bathroom as one of the last frontiers still to be conquered by technology. Lying in a bubble-filled tub, maybe even with some candles burning, is the ultimate relaxing escape. The bathroom, with the exception of the occasional electric toothbrush or razor, is for the most part gadget-free.

But at a time when technology controls more and more of what we do around the home, that might be about to change. The New York Times recently featured two digital shower systems from Hansgrohe, a German company, and Moen, a bathroom outfitter based in Ohio.

Moen’s electronic shower system is called the ioDigital. Traditional faucets and handles are replaced with a single showerhead, a whirlpool tub, or multiple showerheads that can spray from above and from all sides. The touch panel adjusts the temperature and volume of the water and can be mounted in or out of the shower. Bathers can even use a remote control to start the water flowing from another room. After settling on the perfect temperature, users can program their shower preferences and save the settings for their next scrub-a-dub-dub.

Available in the U.S. starting in March 2010, the Hansgrohe RainBrain system includes a variety of different shower heads all controlled by a simple and clear touch panel. Users can adjust the flow and temperature of the water, as well as turn on massaging pulse settings, all with a simple tap on the digital panel. Check out this simulation to see how the system works.

Like the Moen version, RainBrain users can program and save their personal preferences. But where the Hansgrohe version really takes the cake is in its ability to play your favorite songs from an MP3 playlist via Bluetooth technology!

At $4,500, outfitting your shower with a digital control panel may be more of a luxury than a necessity. Then again, luxury tech goods have a habit of quickly becoming affordable necessities. (Think HDTVs.) Maybe someday soon we’ll all be starting our showers from the kitchen!

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