We want to bring you a story of pure engineering genius today. As many of you know, Japan is a country that constantly amazes us with cool products: Nintendo, tamagotchi, and of course, the bidet seat. Many of these products aren’t the result of some “aha” moments, but they were invented because of some real deep brainstorming. There is a brainstorming idea in Japan where one would combine two things that wouldn’t normally go together and see what one would get. An umbrella and a toaster, a cup and a soccer ball, or a key and chopsticks. It’s a matter of looking at the things around you and playing around with them. Play is the keyword. The bidet seat, while not combined with two products that are entirely unrelated, combines a normal toilet seat with a bidet function.
The story of how it was invented goes something like this: households in Japan started installing western-style toilets as people moved into spaces that were too small to have both a urinal and squat toilet, which was the norm. At some point, toilet companies realized that people were washing themselves using the western-style toilet because of medical conditions. This method was not ideal because it was difficult from a user’s perspective. But at the same time small Japanese households couldn’t afford the space to install a bidet. Therefore, companies saught to include a bidet function with the toilet.
It took many tries to get the angle of the bidet spray and the temperature to be the right temperature from the toilet seat, but finally a Japanese company was able to figure this all out. True engineering genius! Many people started retro-fitting their toilet seats with a bidet attachment because the toilet seat price is cheaper than replacing your toilet completely with a toilet bidet combo. And nowadays, the common thing is for new Japanese homes to have toilets that are have a built-in bidet.
The great thing is that the bidet seat attachment is available for other markets too. These new attachments are designed to fit North American toilets too, so for a relatively affordable price you can buy the best bidet attachment on the market and turn your existing toilet into an awesome engineering success. Brands like Toto are more established and expensive but there are many more companies making these today for a relatively cheap price like Brondell or SmartBidet. They are all distributed in North America.
As most of us know, water and electricity don’t mix. So it was an amazing engineering success at the time when they invented the bidet seats because they run on electricity and they spray water. By looking at traffic lights as an example, they were able to figure out how to avoid the seat from short circuiting. Traffic lights operate fine in the rain, so if they were to use the same technology, a bidet seat should work fine even when surrounded by water. Not just the design of the bidet seat, but the fact that they could figure out the electricity behind it is an engineering feat.
On top of this, these were invented with the idea that people would need something easy to install. If you needed to call someone over or pay a plumber to install these, no one would buy them. So there’s plenty that engineers and designers have to think about when they make new products. How can they get it to work? How can it be safe? How to install a bidet with little knowledge? And how will it operate? These are all things to think about.
For those of you who are looking to learn more about Japanese-engineered products, we are happy to let you know that many Japanese companies will be in attendance for this fall’s job fair. So graduates, we urge you to check out the event!