World Toilet Summit: A Flush of Excitement

This lightweight plastic knob, which fits in your pocket, is equipped with a powerful suction cup to pull open a heavy door without your fingers touching a door handle where countless slobs may have laid their grimy hands.

Of course, when you and your Wakmah handle get home, you may want to strap on some rubber gloves, scrub that thing thoroughly and douse yourself with disinfectant.

3. Tomorrow's Toilet: TV Medicine Cabinets and Tanning Showers

Want to watch TV while you're brushing your teeth? Thanks to the magic of flat-screen technology, bathroom mirrors are now available with built-in TV screens -- just don't blame anyone at ABC if you cut yourself shaving while watching "Good Morning America."

Gracious Home, a high-end home store in New York City, began offering TV bathroom mirrors starting at $2,700 earlier this year. Where do you insert your DVDs? You may not want to know.

Don't worry if you find yourself spending more time in the bathroom. By the end of the year, Gracious Home plans to offer a device that will allow you to get a tan while you're taking a shower. Coppertone shampoo can't be too far off.

4. New Scale Tells You More Than 'You're Getting Fat'
Any lifelong dieter will tell you that bathroom scales lie. The scale says you're getting fatter, but you know you're just retaining water.

Now, you can kiss your excuses goodbye. The Tanita Corp. has just introduced a new line of bathroom scales, starting at under $100, which not only measure weight and body fat, but also body-water percentage.

The futuristic scales make calculations by sending a small electrical signal through your body, a process known as bioelectrical impedance.

By knowing your body-fat level, you'll be able to tell if you're replacing muscle mass for fat, even if you're not losing weight.

And by knowing your body's hydration level, you'll be able to tell if you're retaining water.

People who retain water tend to be cranky. So let's hope these scales are sturdy enough for those inevitable moments when they're chucked out the window by dieters who've run out of excuses.

5. Royal Flush: Stronger Toilets for More Luxurious Toilet Paper

America is on a never-ending quest for thicker, softer, multiple-ply toilet paper. Premium lines like Charmin Ultra are the fastest-growing segment of the bathroom paper industry.

You may think high-end TP -- twice as thick as other varieties -- would be an ecological disaster, not to mention the money consumers flush down the toilet. But bathroom industry experts argue otherwise.

According to Charmin's market research, the typical American uses 8.6 squares of toilet paper per bathroom visit and 57 squares a day. However, toilet paper consumption drops in half when a consumer switches to Ultra.

"A person knows it instinctively when they switch to a better toilet paper. With the extra thickness you just start using less," says Kenn Fischburg, president of

The trend toward thicker paper, however, has brought pressure on toilet manufacturers to bolster America's flushing power.

In recent years, the Environmental Protection Agency has demanded that toilets use less water, no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. That's not strong enough for some households, so industry leader Kohler Co. has come out with a line of toilets that give "booster flushes" when needed.

Kohler's Sterling Rockton model, introduced in May, retailing for $250, features a dual flushing system. Press one button for a "light" 0.8 gallon flush for liquid waste. Press the other button for a booming, extra-strength flush for solid waste. You may never have to flush twice again.

"We find that families with potty training kids really need the stronger flushing toilets because little kids get fascinated with the toilet and tend to throw toys and all sorts of things inside," says company spokeswoman Rebecca Barry.

It's a fascination that apparently lasts a lifetime, propelling each generation into a brave new world of toilet technology.

Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at The Wolf Files is published Tuesdays.

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