Wait a few years and you may rule the world with nothing but your voice. Already, you can whisper “Alexa” and she’ll start the vacuum in your living room, or call upon Google and your Nest thermostat will adjust to the right temperature.
In Tokyo, you can now enter a new public restroom, flush, wash your hands, and even play music—all without ever touching a surface. All it takes is a voice greeting: “Hi Toilet.”
Self-described as the most hygienic toilet in the world, Hi Toilet is the latest iteration of the Tokyo Toilet Project, which is replacing 17 public toilets in Shibuya, a popular shopping and entertainment area, with clean, modern, accessible structures. This particular toilet was designed by Kazoo Sato, the chief creative officer at advertising agency TBWA\Hakudo. After a year and a half of acrobatics to flush with our foot, or turn the doorknob with a paper towel that then must be discarded while the door is propped open, this offering is a welcome addition to our public restroom needs. And, while the idea for a hands-free toilet germinated well before the pandemic, it’s a timely reminder that we all deserve a safe, clean, and inclusive place to do our business in the city.