For many years people have delighted in the idea of robots taking care of labour intensive, menial tasks – seeing it as positive progress. Certainly, plenty of cleaning inventions from the last century have been very beneficial (think of the electric iron, the vacuum cleaner and the electric washing machine) yet at the same time, we often feel uneasy about technology of the future taking jobs away from people.
Today, technology is even more advanced – not only do we have machines that we use to make cleaning easier, we now have robots which actually do it for us, from the robot vacuum cleaner, the robot mop, and the robot window cleaner to the electric appliance scrubber!
And then we have the impact of ‘smart’ technology on cleaning – like the Washlet, developed by Toto, a Japanese sanitary ware company. The idea of their shower-lavatory is fairly self-explanatory.
In fact, it uses an ultra-hygienic washer/dryer nozzle that makes toilet paper unnecessary. Its sensor-operated lid removes the need for users to place hands anywhere near the pan, and the heated seat speaks for itself – only gaining in appeal as the cold weather gets ever nearer.
With a smooth glaze finish that makes it hard for grime to attach itself coupled with the ‘tornado flush’ – again, fairly self-explanatory – and rimless bowl, we’re looking at a toilet that’s about as self-cleaning as it gets. And for users who really want to impress, the PreMist feature sprays electrolysed water around the bowl before use, and an electric current alters the composition of the water to give it the ability to disinfect.
Elevating the humble loo to something of space-age proportions the top of the range Washlet is coated with a layer of titanium dioxide which breaks up dirt, and the pans are fitted with a UV light to trigger the process.
And this is just the beginning. Hotels could utilise the same dirt-zapping, UV light-activated cleaning technology to clean whole rooms.
So, what about cleaners and how this affects them?
Well, at the moment, robotic cleaning technology seems mostly to comprise of robotic vacuum cleaners which, despite automatic dirt disposal, still need emptying by a person when full. And remember, cutting-edge technology is usually extremely expensive so robots and smart cleaning tech probably won’t be putting professional cleaners out of business yet!