In late 2015, my fiancé and I were lucky enough to visit Ephesus in Turkey. Ephesus was built in the 10th century BC. We did the tourist thing and took 1,000's of photos, but what struck me other than the amazing architecture, was the way they engineered their toilets.
According to the Kusadasi information centre, the latrina built in the first century A.D. are the public toilets of Ephesus. The toilets were arranged side by side with no partition between them. In the middle was a square pool. The floor was paved with mosaics. There was a charge to use them, so it's a pretty sad day if you've picked up a bit of food poisoning from your chicken kebab,and can't afford the latrina charge!
Likely the worlds first public toilets. The trench in front had fresh running water. Located at the heart of Ephesus, at the junction of two main roads, this was surely the premiere public toilet of the city. Romans often used public toilets which were connected to the sewer system. It was a place to talk politics, sports, and about the day's events.
This got me thinking, how has technology helped the advancement of one of the most often used and necessary household items?
Various cultures have a different take on something that most would think is so basic. From my travels in Paris, where I found myself in a tricky situation using an elephant feet toilet, also known as a Turkish toilet or squatting toilet, and then on to other parts of Europe where I found many of the toilets had no toilet paper, just this weird sit down water fountain called a bidet. I'm sure the French are thinking we are weird in New Zealand for using clumps of toilet paper to clean up!
But all was not lost on my pursuit to find a futuristic toilet. New York came through for me when I visited one of my foodie idol's Iron Chef Morimoto (Morimoto's Japanese Restaurant). Just to be clear, the food is exceptional but then the restroom experience...next level. Morimoto's had installed the very latest, top-of-the-line Japanese toilet.
The toilet seat is heated and the lid automatically opens for you. There was a control panel located on the wall next to the toilet paper that had rear cleansing, front cleansing and a dryer no less, to really enhance the experience.
So what's next for the humble toilet? Will we look back in 20 years and think that how we did our business was crazy? Well from Turkey to New York and close to 3,000 years later, the toilet is still just a hole in the floor. There doesn't seem to be a lot of new science, research and development and that's probably a good thing. There are more pressing issues to solve.
However, with an "Internet of Things" mindset, perhaps the humble toilet could potentially be turned into a diagnostic tool to detect if I am sick, read my sugar levels, sodium intake and so on to give me a better diet to try, or advise if medical attention is recommended. It could even alert or send results direct to my doctor.
Something a bit more realistic to consider, perhaps a simple viewing device connected to the toilet, voice activated of course, that can allow me to catch up on news, sports, politics etc without having to take out my smartphone and risk it falling in the toilet!