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Tech

I Made My Thanksgiving Guests Review My Robot Toilet

Earlier this year, I was gifted a free top-of-the-line "smart toilet." I invited my Thanksgiving guests to test it out.
November 30, 2014, 3:00pm

I don't typically encourage guests to shit in our toilet—at least, I'm not enthusiastic about it—but this Thanksgiving was different. Let me explain.

Back in July,  ​I wrot​e an article about the primitive nature of American toilet technology. The crux of the article was that it doesn't make sense that we still use the archaic, germ-ridden flush toilet when there are technologies readily available to make the bathroom experience so much more enjoyable.

After I wrote this article, a representative from American Standard contacted me and offered to send me the ​AT​200, their fanciest, smartest robo-toilet. I was, naturally, pretty stoked about this. But since I live in a rented apartment, I couldn't install it in my place. (I even asked our building manager, who kind of stared at me blankly and then said no.) So American Standard sent me the ​AT100 instead, their top-of-the-line bidet seat which is designed to sit on top of your existing toilet. Unfortunately, I couldn't install that in my apartment either since it requires a water and electrical hookup, so I gave it to my mom. She gave me life; I gave her a robot toilet.

The toilet itself looks like it's straight out of The Jetsons—sort of like how people in the past might have imagined toilets in the future. The bidet seat has two spray nozzles—one for "rear cleansing" and one for "front cleansing"—a drying feature, heated seats, and a deodorizer, which is supposed to keep the toilet smelling fresh for seven years. Although it fits on top of a normal toilet, it requires a fairly experienced plumber to install. It has a little remote control that can be used to adjust the water pressure, the positioning of the water stream, and the heat of the seat, water, and drying function. When you sit down, the toilet quietly hums at you—maybe to muffle pooping noises?

On Thanksgiving and the day after, when our friends and family were a little drunk and full of food and had their guard down, I asked them each to test it out. Here's what they had to say:

CJ, my boyfriend
​"At first, I thought the remote was stuck to the back of the toilet, but then I realized you could remove it and put it in your lap. Everything went smoothly, until I decided to start pushing buttons. I quickly realized I was sitting much too far forward on the seat. As someone who hasn't used this kind of toilet before, I think the sensation was a little alarming at first, but I can understand the appeal. And while the cleaning certainly did its job, the drying left much to be desired. It was a supplement to the toilet paper rather than a replacement of the toilet paper."

Marilyn, my neighbor
​"Ooh, I like it! I just can't believe that we're so primitive in that respect. It's comfortable. I like the remote control feature. It was really cool, sitting there and playing with it. I don't know. I just feel cleaner. I'd buy one. And I think there's a real market there for caretakers and people caring for the elderly."

Sheila, my mom's friend
​"Since I read that article you wrote, I've been feeling really dirty... Every time I wipe myself, I think, Oh, this is filthy. I never feel completely clean. So I loved the cleansing process. I liked the warm spray, and I thought it was angled accurately. It's very pleasurable to feel so clean. I'm 74 years old and I've never used a bidet in my whole life! Now it seems like a no-brainer."

Kenny, my friend. (He asked not to be pictured because he's unemployed and didn't want potential employers associating him with bidet toilets or whatever.)
"It was roughly analogous to a water park in my ass. It was the Knott's Soak City of the anus, which is not something I would typically pay money for or opt into voluntarily. It just wasn't doing it for me. I felt dirty insomuch as it felt slightly penetrative. Maybe I would enjoy it at a lower water pressure? Like, you're not going to start with the big butt play first. You're going to start small first. But, I don't know, it simply wasn't for me."

Emily, my mom's coworker
"I couldn't stop laughing! It was definitely the most amusing pee I've ever had. You can call me a traditionalist, but I'm just not sure I could get used to that. I literally laughed the whole time I was in the bathroom. When I sat down, there were, like, woodland creature noises. So right away, I was taken aback. And then it was very warm, which I'm not used to. It kind of seemed like someone had been there before I got there. What really got me was that it kind of tickles. I mean, it sprayed me and it tickled. I can't get over it. It was amusing, but I'm definitely not buying one for my house."

Kathleen, my family friend
"I feel refreshed. I feel clean. I found it very pleasant. I kind of had to adjust my bottom for it to hit just right, but it was very nice to feel the warmth. I did have to wipe down some overspray on the back of the seat, so maybe I wasn't sitting on it just right. I liked this better than the other bidets that I've used: the stream level was good, it was easier to use, and the fact that it was right there after using the toilet. I would like one of these! Can you get me one of these?"

Mike, my family friend
"It was a little bit surprising at first. I've never really... done that before. But once I got used to it, and the initial shock of it, it was fine. I maybe would've preferred the seat to be a little cooler. The dryer wasn't super dry, but I wouldn't really expect a full gust of wind."

Doreen, my mom
"I just think it's a great way to get cleansed after using the toilet. I try to use it in the morning when I have my 'daily constitutional,' but I haven't become accustomed to using it more than that. The heated toilet seat is nice. I think you're supposed to mount the remote control on a wall, but we don't really have a good wall for that in our bathroom."

​Sar​a​h, my family friend
"The heated toilet was totally lovely. I would hang out on that toilet. I never understand why people put books for you to read beside the toilet, but now I do. I would read books on that beautiful seat."

Elaine, my aunt
​"I liked the heated seat. I liked being able to 'spray my asshole clean,' to quote you. What else? How much more can you say about a bidet?"

My thoughts? It was a little startling to feel that first spray.  Getting used to water cleansing is an adjustment, to be sure, and I found myself reaching for toilet paper every time out of habit. But I did feel clean—like, as clean as if I'd just showered. If everyone owned one of these, there would be no such thing as skid marks in your underwear. And, after inviting half a dozen people to use our bathroom in the course of a day, it smelled as clean as if we'd just spritzed air freshener. That's pretty amazing.

The AT100 doesn't have all of the deluxe features of the AT200—things like automatic flushing, seat opening, and closing—which I can imagine only make the bathroom experience even cleaner. And there are other smart toilets which come with even fancier features, like noise muffling. I'd be eager to try those out (anyone want to send me another free toilet?), but until then I'll be peeing over here in elegance.

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