Bathrooms with brains

No longer purely for function, bathrooms are awash with new technology
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Bathrooms are awash with new technology. At the touch of a button your bath or shower can turn on at exactly the right temperature as soft music strikes up, the mood lighting turns down and a squirt of your chosen perfume begins to waft across the room for the ultimate home spa experience.

The Nahho float bath from Duravit
£4,711: the Nahho float bath from Duravit comes with Bluetooth-controlled speakers for listening above and below water

Speakers set into the walls will be linked to your iPhone so no call is missed, and when you step on the scales (from your weight will be tweeted instantly to the outside world.

Your RadioStar bathroom mirror is also a digital radio with stereo speakers, but is at least under your remote control (call 020 8441 0352, or visit And the Nahho float bath has Bluetooth to blast you music above the water — and from below, should you be tempted to sink below the suds (details at or call 0845 500 7787).

A waterproof bathroom TV has a large 19-inch screen — heated to cut condensation (

Radiostar mirror
£365: the Radiostar mirror comes with a remote-controlled digital radio and speakers

Bathroom buzzword

This year's buzzword for bathrooms is "wellbeing". New showers and baths are fitted with a deluge of programmes, from "de-stress" for winding down at night to "energising" for revving up in the morning. You can position water jets to chosen spots on your body with varied spray patterns and pressures. Water that changes colour is commonplace, with blue reckoned to sooth and red to stimulate. But Dornbracht's ATT system (it stands for "ambience tuning technique") is so smart you may have to call the manufacturer to change the settings (

Toto showers have rotating jets and say hello and goodbye in six languages. But are you too grumpy to talk to a shower in the mornings? "Londoners want the steam rooms, saunas and specialist showers they have experienced in boutique hotels," says designer Sally Cutchie of CP Hart, whose showroom in Waterloo can demonstrate the latest designs (Newnham Terrace, Hercules Road, SE1; 020 7902 5250; uk). These include "Touch and Steam" for "a hammam experience in your shower", with touch controls built into a sleek sheet of glass, and steam that's all lit up. There are new easy-clean ceramics for baths and loos, smear-resistant glass for shower cubicles, and easy-clean acrylics for baths and shower trays.

Hoesch water lounge
The Hoesch water lounge combines a lounger with a massage bath
Innovation in materials gives designers a new freedom. "Glassed steel" creates wafer-thin basins for Alape ( "Soft Bath" by Ideal Standard is a smooth, glossy plastic that feels like a cushion when filled with hot water ( And "Luminist" by Toto makes baths and basins glow with interior lighting.

You can ditch those ugly pull cords for your lights, too: a new lighting system works off wifi, making it safe to use anywhere in the bathroom, even next to the bath or in the shower itself.

Sensors embedded under a tile can be made to work like switches and dimmers to control lights, music and even extractor fans ( "Major on mood," advises Diana Garnett, designer with the Ripples group of bathroom shops ( "But water-saving is where technology makes the biggest difference for most users," says Jeff Williams of leading British brand Ideal Standard. He claims his company's new Ceramix Blue tap can save up to £168 a year (assuming four people in a household each using the tap around seven times a day).

* To find the most water-efficient products for your home visit

Japanese electronic loo/bidet by Toto
From £750: Toto's range of new Japanese electronic loo/bidets

Turning Japanese with a hi-tech loo

Electronic loos, no novelty to the Japanese, are now available in Britain. They do everything an ordinary lavatory and a bidet do but are more entertaining — offering a gentle stream of drying air as a finale. Brand leader is the Japanese "rimless Toto Washlet" — try one out, so to speak, at the Toto showroom at 140-142 St John Street, EC1 (020 78317544;

However smart your loo, though, London's hard water can leave stains within a few months. New designs flush in a single, dramatic blast from the back of a rimless pan. British company Twyfords has perfected this idea, producing a range of pans with no crevices to harbour germs.

This fills with water at the touch of a button, then a blast of air pushes the water around the lavatory rim (uk.; 01530 830080), keeping it clean. And this model, too, has a new rimless design.

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