These Charmin robots make us wonder: Is pooping the next tech frontier?
At CES 2020, the toilet roll maker shows us a vision for the future of bathroom time.
Katie CollinsSenior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Whether you refer to it as the whizz palace, the loo or the throne room, it's a simple fact that humans must spend time visiting the toilet every day of our lives. All that time spent on the pot adds up over the years, and to make life a little more comfy, toilet paper maker Charmin has come up with a range of tech-based bathroom solutions.
At CES in Las Vegas on Sunday, the company unveiled the Rollbot, a self-balancing robot that connects to your phone and will deliver a fresh toilet roll directly to your seat if you happen to find yourself on the pan and caught in a bind.
It's not clear how the bear-faced robot, which has no arms, hands or thumbs, is able to wrangle a fresh roll out from the cupboard under the stairs and open the locked toilet door to bring the roll right to you, but they're presumably problems for CES 2021 and beyond.
The Rollbot is one of the more niche robots we're likely to see this year at CES on our quest to discover the latest and greatest products, but it does play into one of the show's big 2020 trends -- the increased focus on how technology can benefit our health and well-being.
The Rollbot was accompanied on stage at the show by SmellSense, a sensor that will let you know before you enter a bathroom whether you are likely to gag or keel over from asphyxiation due to the activities of the previous occupant. SmellSense will give you a "no" or a "good to go" based on how much carbon dioxide or hydrogen sulfide it detects in the air.
are joined by the AR V.I.Pee as part of Charmin's GoLab vision for the future of bathroom visits. This superior port-a-potty is equipped with an Oculus Rift S VR headset to show you what's going on at the event you might be attending while you're in the bathroom. It's designed to give you a front-row seat to a concert during your pee break so you don't get FOMO, which if it's better than your actual seat might make it hard to leave.
GoLab isn't designed to go on sale within this coming year; instead these concept products are demonstrating how toilet-going could be disrupted in the future -- and we mean that purely in a tech sense, because being interrupted on the can is fun for no one.