Monday, April 18, 2011

The $6,300 Dump - The Line Forms At Your Rear

Kohler Numi 'smart toilet': The royal flush or the royal shaft?

Standard flush toilet $169
Kohler Royal Flush toilet $6,300

Give your ass a treat or a treatment?

Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY

When nature calls, most of us head to the nearest toilet to do our business. If the bathroom has the Kohler Numi that launches in the U.S. at the end of the month, you might be tempted to hang out awhile, maybe make a life there.

The customizable "smart toilet" lets you adjust seat position, water temperature and pressure, ambient lighting, even audio. Numi not only has a built-in music system with rear speakers, but also an FM radio and audio input jack for an MP3 player.

It has an adjustable heated seat and foot warmer too, plus an integrated stainless steel, self-cleaning bidet wand with a dryer. A motion-controlled seat and lid can automatically open when you approach and close when you split.

Tripping a bar of light on the floor to the side of the toilet automatically raises the seat, while the toilet automatically flushes when walking away.

There are a couple of flush cycles: a water efficient "eco" flush that uses .6 gallons per flush or a full flush at 1.28 gallons. And flushing is extremely quiet so you don't miss a single riff by your favorite guitarist.

The attractive toilet sports a minimalist design. It comes in white or biscuit colors, and it includes a removable handheld touch-screen remote control that lets you control various settings for up to 6 individual users and in a dozen different languages. (Numi has already been introduced in some Asian markets.) You can recharge the remote's lithium ion battery and store it in a wall-mounted dock. The toilet itself plugs into an electrical outlet.

What might make your stomach growl is the $6,300 list price, only 40 times the price of an ordinary toilet. David Kohler, the President and Chief Operating Officer of the Wisconsin-based business, acknowledges that Numi is priced "at the top of the market." But he says, "the luxury market's coming back in this country and (is) very strong in other parts of the world. This product is targeted at those consumers who want the best -- they want the latest in design and technology (and) want a fashion statement in their home. They can invite their friends and guests to gather round the toilet for cocktails and small talk about their high fashion crapper.

David Kohler says Numi has been under development for five years. Five years of wasted time, energy and engineering talent to produce a toilet no one can afford and if they can they should donate the money to homeless shelters instead. Kohler expressed shock and awe to learn there are 1,000's of homeless shelters in America. He offered to donate 100 standard factory seconds for the shelters.

Might video come next? Kohler recently took the lid off another product in China with an "entertainment remote" that provides Skype and streaming video. A non-Kohler spokesman said the next market is to bring the conference room into the toilet. Conferees can switch places on the crapper without losing their train of thought. It could revolutionize business meetings, most of which are a lot of crap to begin with. Why not make it official?

What's next? The Royal Two-Seater - Side By Side Conferencing

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