CES 2019: How TOTO is making restrooms smarter

TOTO is using IoT to develop smart bathrooms for cities.

CES 2019: How TOTO is making restrooms smarter TOTO is using IoT to develop smart bathrooms for cities.

At CES 2019, TechRepublic Senior Writer Teena Maddox spoke to TOTO USA Inc. President of Operations Bill Strang about how IoT is transforming ordinary restrooms into smart restrooms. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

Teena Maddox: Hi, I'm here at CES Unveiled, and I'm talking to Bill Strang at TOTO, and he's going to tell us a little bit about what they're showing.

Bill Strang: Well, you're going to be excited because we're now showing a commercial product that's really doing some very interesting things. Our commercial product is collaborating with Georgia-Pacific to actually have our EcoPower flush valves for faucets and urinals and toilets hooked up to an IoT solution, which gives us the opportunity to have every single faucet, urinal, and toilet reporting up to a central database in the cloud, enabling each of those valves to be monitored and tracked.

And you might think, 'What does that really do for me? What's the value proposition there?' What we find is, we're actually able to understand when the rush hours are for the bathroom, and actually they're able to deploy the custodial and janitorial crew more effectively during the day, to know when the rush hour is, to clean before and just after the rush hour, so that the bathroom stall, that space is actually beautiful and ready for the next traveler to come in.

SEE: CES 2019 news, photos, videos, and more (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

Teena Maddox: Where exactly are they doing this?

Bill Strang: This is actually occurring right now. We'd run it as a beta test in Hartsfield [Jackson Atlanta International] Airport, where last year they ran 104 million visitors through that airport, and our toilets and faucets are being used in that space. In fact, our tracking and monitoring right now is indicating that we actually have every single day over 5,000 flushes, in just one bathroom.

SEE: CES 2019 Special Coverage (CNET)

Teena Maddox: So after the beta, what's next?

Bill Strang: After the beta, we're then rolling out into more of the concourse and more of the airport area. Now, the airport gives us the ability to enable the custodial crew to do a better job, to be more efficient, and has been a very good benefit for them. But the other interesting thing about this process is not just the efficiency of the staff, but the custodial staff is actually walking around with a hand-held device to track where that problem is occurring, and what their actual remediation needs to be.

That janitorial staff now feels a little bit enabled. They feel like they're a little bit prouder. They actually have a device where we've almost gamified the opportunity of cleaning a bathroom, and that's a great opportunity to provide the guests and travelers with a better flight experience.

SEE: CES 2019: The Big Trends for Business (ZDNet Special Feature)

Teena Maddox: Any cost savings for the municipality, or whoever is using it?

Bill Strang: Absolutely. The cost savings comes in the effective usage of the janitorial staff and custodial staff, so they're able to deploy them during the rush hours with a few more folks, and actually move them to other areas of the airport during the not so busy times.

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By Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Editor at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...