An IoT Device that Shines

It’s easy to be dismissive of bringing broadband into the home bathroom, but Shine CEO, Chris Herbert, makes a strong case for his company’s soon-to-be-released, IoT device, Shine Bathroom Assistant. Shine has a simple value proposition, which is the automated cleaning and maintenance of the commode.

A loo that is always clean and that doesn’t require scrubbing is great, but it is the analytics, combined with connectivity, that may be of even greater long-term value. In the above interview, Herbert explains that the associated app, Sam, constantly monitors things like water flow and makes inferences that allow Sam to detect leaks and overflows, track water usage, and diagnose problems.

When a problem is detected, Shine can even send replacement toilet parts, based on their diagnosis. The installation of the Shine Bathroom Assistant requires no tools or electrical outlets, as it comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts six months.  The components are:

  • a sensor that attaches to the waterline
  • a water container that includes the system electronics, a replaceable pod, as well as the circuitry to perform electrolysis.
  • a spray bar that sprays the electrolyzed water into the bowl.

Another benefit of the Shine approach is that it doesn’t use chemicals and the amount of salt created is nil. In an email exchange, Herbert explains that “The salt is diluted to an amount that it doesn’t matter; 1mL to 1.6 gallons.”

The question is how well does it work? According to data from their website, which was based on a study by an independent third-party laboratory, TURI Surface Solutions Laboratory on 9/27/2019 and 9/28/2019. it is

  • up to 4% more effective than traditional chemical-based cleaning products on ceramic services
  • and up to 23% more effective on multiple services, depending upon the brand of cleaner

Herbert explains that the only maintenance is the replacement of the pod, which he estimates has a lifetime of about 280 flushes. He says that these may be purchased on an ala carte basis at $2 each or an unlimited number of pods for your house for $25 per year.

Although a new company and product, Herbert has a track record taking a concept and creating a successful product, as he was the founder of TrackR. Despite the current shutdown, he wrote in an email that they will be shipping the first production units in July of this year (in the above video, he estimated June).

He also indicates that privacy is a priority for his company as indicated in an email exchange where he wrote, “A side note is we believe the privy should stay private.”

Herbert continued, “I think that intelligent toilets are the future and will have massive benefits to our health.”  This recent PC Magazine article takes a somewhat lighthearted look at a serious proposal by Stanford scientists that are working on building a lab in a toilet seat. This is the type of non-invasive measurement that could be valuable for tracking disease, as well as, potentially, for measuring symptoms related to a pandemic.

Herbert pointed to Toi Labs as another example of a company that is literally trying to extract valuable health data from our waste products. Toi Labs’s focus is on seniors and aims to provide a “complete digital health solution that addresses chronic lower digestive and urinary conditions prevalent in senior populations.”

Herbert believes the best path forward is a modular approach, such as what Shine and Toi Labs are doing so, instead of having to buy a new fixture, people can simply upgrade their current bathroom technology.  As Herbert’s vision is realized, the moniker IoT may come to mean the Internet of Toilet.