While we all knew that touch points were breeding grounds for bacteria, nobody realised until COVID that it could be a matter of life and death. In fact, one of the biggest lessons we’ve learned over the past year is that hand hygiene – or lack of it – plays a key part in the transmission of viruses. Fortunately, bathroom manufacturers have been several steps ahead on this one – Emma Hedges talks to those who have been busy blazing the touchless technology trail.
Consumers are already very familiar with touchless products – they have been encountering them in public washrooms for years, however, it hasn’t been until recently they started to be accepted in a residential context. “Touchless technology has been around for a while now, but price and perceived value have always been a barrier to sales,” explains Andrew Greenhouse, national sales manager for Bathroom Engineering. “The pandemic has seen that perception change and consumers are now valuing touchless technology with a different viewpoint. Also, the new, more design-led focus is capturing people’s ideas and imagination.” Bathroom Engineering’s all-in-one TECE Lux flushing solution has integrated touch-free electronic sensors, and can be combined with almost all toilets and shower toilets.
“The responsibility lies with manufacturers and retailers to ensure hygienically optimised products are more accessible for all homeowners,” says Sophie Weston, consumer marketing manager for Geberit UK. “This means making cutting-edge touchless technology readily available across the market at any price point. At Geberit, this accessibility to quality products for all customers is something we are already dedicated to, with our Select and Aspire Collections offering a host of cutting-edge innovations for both premium and mid-market retail partners.”
With the tap handle presenting another potential hazard for hygiene, basin mixers are also in the spotlight. Roca has recently introduced a collection of electronic mixers, including the Loft-E range, which the brand says can be installed in any bathroom regardless of the availability of a power outlet in the area of usage.
Touchless technology is being incorporated into other areas of the bathroom too. “As well as sensored taps, touchless illuminated mirrors and cabinets have become key products for those seeking an enhanced hygienic bathroom,” says HiB sales director Ash Chilver. “HiB has been at the forefront of touchless technology for many years, having designed products with wave sensors such as HiB’s Verve cabinets.” By using these innovations, people do not have to have any physical contact with the product to operate it, making it safer, but bringing other benefits too, such as future proofing an environment so that it becomes more accessible. "Touchless technology reduces the number of shared touch points in the space but can also be a useful feature for multigenerational households, as it offers easy operation for all," concludes Chilver.