Saturday, February 12, 2005
San Francisco inventor's seat is heated, will spray a mist and blow-dry the user.
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
Already flush with cash from selling his online music firm, entrepreneur David Samuel hopes to be sitting on top of another business success: high-tech toilet seats.
Samuel co-founded San Francisco's Brondell Inc., which this week plans to start marketing the Swash, a toilet seat that sprays a stream of warm water to cleanse a person's private parts. It turns an ordinary toilet into a bidet, a water-spraying toilet device that is popular in Europe.
The Swash 400 is heated and has push-button controls to adjust water pressure and temperature. A self-cleaning spray arm moves forward or back to adjust to the anatomy of male and female users.
An advanced Swash 600 also includes a wireless remote control and a blow-dryer designed to eliminate the need for traditional toilet paper.
Brondell lists the Swash 400 at $699 and the Swash 600 at $899, although the company is offering a 38 percent discount through its Web site.
Appreciation comes with use
Samuel, who sold the Web music service Spinner Networks Inc. to America Online for $320 million in 1999, said he believes the Swash, like TiVo, the digital video recording device, must be used to be fully appreciated. "Once someone experiences one of our warm toilet seats and the warm-water bidet, there's no going back to the cold porcelain toilet," he said.
Although infrared controls have made automatic flushing and sink faucets common in public bathrooms, basic toilet technology "hasn't changed much in 200 years," Chief Executive Officer Scott Pinizzotto said.
The Swash has a reservoir that stores and heats about 34 ounces of water, good for up to a one-minute continuous stream of warm water, although the operation only requires about 15 seconds, Pinizzotto said. The top-end model can blow-dry a user in about a minute.