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The TOTO Universal Design Center

It’s no surprise that the leading research center for Universal Design would be located in the middle of a culture that reveres its elderly. But the extensive and groundbreaking work that goes on in the TOTO Universal Design Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology is impressive nonetheless.

Seeking new ways to handle design problems and solve accessibility issues for people in any circumstance – whatever their age, health, or physical or mental capacity – has lead TOTO away from bland, prescriptive solutions and toward more interesting and creative ones. For example, the Center has automated many functions on TOTO toilets and showers to make use easy and intuitive, and developed attractive towel bars that are strong enough to be used as grab bars. Wireless remote controls offer hands-free operation of faucets with a knee, elbow or other body part and can be operated from a wheelchair, too. And TOTO Washlets were developed to aid in washing and drying users, which for many confers independence and dignity as well.

Getting to these solutions is a fascinating, often fun process. Age simulation suits, with blurred goggles, weighted ankles, stiffening at the joints, and more, help TOTO researchers better understand what it’s like for someone with physical challenges to stand up from a toilet, get out of a tub, or operate a handle. And with almost 25% of Japan’s population being elderly, and with a female life expectancy of 86 years, direct observation of people using TOTO products is also key to the research. In fact, the dimensions of the mocked-up bathroom settings TOTO uses here can be adjusted instantly, for immediate assessment of different solutions.

TOTO respect for people of all ages and abilities begins right here at our Design Research Center, and extends to every bathroom with products bearing our name. We’re proud to be at the forefront of innovations that help everyone get the most out of life, especially in the most private and basic ways.