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When a Butterfly Lands on a Cactus

Shimo Kitazawa: connected toilets

Friends of mine recently moved in a modern Tokyo apartment, that included amongst its other mod-cons a remote control to operate the toilet. Control panel’s like this are nothing new and this Toto washes, sprays, and blow dries (though It doesn’t however have an SD-card slot for uploading music like the one in the ladies bathroom at work). The apartment also comes with peace-of-mind-security coverage – the remote control for which thoughtfully placed next to the toilet interface.

So when house guests are wanting to flush and aren’t familiar with the kanji for ’emergency’ (not yours truly, but tip of the hat to you-know-who-you-are) there is naturally a risk of pressing the wrong button. Looking at the photo which button would you press? What the likely consequences of pressing the wrong button? And given the context is the user in a position to ask the hosts for help?

Its no surpise that the ‘wrong’ button is pressed and an alarm sounds, and the security company sends out a uniformed emergency response team. I’d like to think that this is a joke, but it isn’t, though the impact is lessened by the uniformed gentleman arriving by mamachari bicycle to investigate. Is this the end of the story? Actually no.

Some days later a written report arrives, officially stamped with the details of the resident-presses-the-wrong-button-in-the-toilet-incident duly written up. There’s so much wrong with this future-perfect-connected world situation its difficult to know where to start. Good intentions, technological illiteracy, in-elegant failure. And its all coming soon to a culture near you.