Introducing the New Voice Activated Restroom

Taking public restrooms to the next level.

Oct 6, 2021
Introducing the New Voice Activated Restroom | Taking public restrooms to the next level.

You can already tell Alexa to turn on your robotic vacuum or change the temperature of your AC, but can you flush your toilet by voice command? Now, you can go into a public restroom in Tokyo, Japan and flush or wash your hands by using voice commands. All you have to do is say, “Hi toilet.”

This new  pristine restroom is part of the Nippon Foundation’s THE TOKYO TOILET project, and according to the foundation can be used by anyone regardless of gender, age, or disability according to a press release.

The voice activated restroom – called Hi Toilet – is the latest offering in the project that is building new restrooms at 17 locations in Shibuya and according to the organization, “it is a way to move towards the realization of a society that embraces diversity.”

Designed by Kazoo Sato, from the TBWA\Hakuhodo advertising agency, the restroom uses voice commands to control functions like opening the door, flushing the toilet, turning on the water in the sink, according to Dezeen. All you have to do is say, “Hi toilet.”

The idea for the Hi Toilet was in place long before the coronavirus pandemic hit but that just makes the hands-off hygienic restroom even more timely. “After three years of research, planning and designing, we came up with the concept of the voice-command toilet called Hi Toilet, where all commands were activated by voice,” Sato told Dezeen.

He said that it was in response to reading that 60 percent of people using public restrooms in the US and Europe step on the lever to flush, 50 percent open doors with toilet paper, and use their hips or elbows when closing the door. Hi Toilet’s hands-free facilities are sure to be a hit.

While the toilet is equipped  with a custom command system using a Japanese library, reported Fast Company, it will also respond to English speakers. Sato said that it could also be programmed with additional languages. The interactive experience has been described as similar to talking to a chatbot.

Besides the usual bathroom functions, there is even voice activated music. “A lot of people using public facilities run the tap water or flush only to muffle the sound when they’re doing their business,” Sato told Fast Company. “It’s an incredible waste of water and not at all sustainable.”

But there’s also an additional reason for the music. A Japanese study showed that a music frequency of 528 Hz has a stress reducing effect which Sato said helps to stimulate bowel movements. All of Hi Toilets musical genres that range from hip hop to classical use that frequency.

This restroom is situated in the heart of Shibuya’s financial district. The restroom features a futuristic hemispherical form with one side being accessible to both genders and urinals on the other. Earlier restrooms in the project include a cedar clad toilet village of five huts, a circular restroom, and a transparent glass unit that turns opaque when in use. 

Turning public restrooms into works of art will enhance Tokyo’s reputation as one of the cleanest cities in the world and now one of the most innovative ones too!

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Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.