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Japanese create talking toilet

Japan's Toto dares to create a toilet that talks. The Neo 2 throne has a penchant for wry humor and bad jokes, and can be controlled via Webcam.

Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET

Major Japanese toilet maker Toto has created a talking commode. The new Neo model has a robotic lid that moves in time with its voice, which for some reason is male.

Neo features in a series of short video ads for the Japanese market, apparently as a joke. The videos show Neo chatting with a man about everyday things like relationships and riding Japan Railways trains.

The company's Tototalk campaign promotes the Neo 2 prototype model, which is currently on display in the Caretta Shiodome mall in downtown Tokyo. Check it out in the video below.

Neo 2 is designed to provide every function imaginable, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Japan's highly engineered toilets. Neo 2's ridiculously long armrest features more than 10 buttons. They can make Neo 2 tell jokes, give the weather forecast, or display an outsize bum scrubber.

The same functions can be controlled via a real-time Web link and Webcam at the Tototalk Web site.

In one joke, Neo talks about the U.S. cities of Onalaska in Texas and Wisconsin. The name is pronounced "Onaraska" in Japanese, and "onara" means "fart."

In their endless quest to engineer toilets into high-tech electronic waste receptacles, Japanese manufacturers have produced Western-style toilets that have remote controls, bum spray and bidet functions, heated seats, and dozens of buttons to control the various functions. Public toilets for women often have a Toto function called Otohime, or "sound princess," which masks the sound of urination with an artificial flushing noise.

Toto was also behind such innovations as the Washlet bum shower, a function called "Tornado flushing" and the tankless toilet. Some have contributed to cutting water use.