Monocle Internet of Things interview

Monocle Internet of Things Kohler-363

Mark Bickerstaffe, director of new product development, and two of the speakers of the KOHLER Design Forums Ron Bakker and Sean Affleck sat down with Josh Fehnert to talk ‘Monocle Internet of Things’ related to architecture, design, and the bathroom.

Mark who had attended a few of the KOHLER Design Forums that took place over the last few months in Singapore, London, Toronto, Dubai, and Bangkok, remarked that the thinking around technology and connectivity was astonishingly similar in all regions. The other commonality that he found was that people agree that we are living in a ‘two speed world’.

It is no problem to wait for coffee, but it is unacceptable not to have the fastest internet connection.

Mark’s and his team’s focus is on creating and increasing connectivity in the bathroom and beyond. With the use of technology, artificial intelligence, and more human-centered design. He explained that smart design in the bathroom has to make the experience, the usage, and the environment better to delight users.

It is not only a question of automatically switching on lights, the heat, and vents when we enter or exit the room, but it is about managing energy, light sources, warmth and more, according to your needs and preferences. Users love the benefits of this automation that saves energy and resources.

Water usage is another thing on designers’ minds these days. To preserve clean water resources as a valid resource is paramount and the connected and integrated designs play a big role in reducing water consumption and helping to optimize. Through technology and smart design, water flow can be customized depending on the activities in the bathroom e.g. brushing teeth, washing hands etc.

In their interview ‘Monocle Internet of Things‘ Mark and Josh touched upon the changing needs of people. They looked at users in high-density cities who have to content with bathrooms that become smaller and smaller. Small spaces have been a reality in Japan and Asia for a while and it is great to access the findings from that part of the world. The Kohler team experiment a lot to integrate technology, innovation, and design in such a way that users can live a gracious bathroom experience.

Additionally, the bathroom should provide a space for escape and indulgence in luxuries. The designers work hard to build connected bathrooms that will ease users’ needs to connect with the vital element of water, that provide a form of relaxation, and a possible transformation of the state of mind and being.

As much as we all love automation, there is always a small nagging nugget of fear connected with letting go of control. The KOHLER Design Forum speakers all agreed that automation, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence will not be the end of human interactions. On the contrary, the automation will help with the things that matter most.

Innovation, technology, and novelty are not only for the young. The growing elderly age segment interacts with it as well. The capacity to help aging populations through AI or AR is vast. From touch screens to interactive screens, they will soon see the benefits of being connected and the ease of use.

These new technologies can help to increase independence and reduce loneliness to the point of having a robot at home to chat with or to help with easy tasks.

Regardless of culture and age, the meaning of technology has one purpose: to simplify life. This is easier said than done and the industrial designers around the world are working on creating products that reflect simplicity and promote these benefits to users.

Listen to Mark’s interview ‘Monocle Internet of Things’ with Josh in full at Monocle on Design ‘Internet of Things’

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