Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Replacement Toilet Lids and Seats - 'Happy toilet, happy employee' motto pays off for Fukuoka firm - This Old Toilet 800-658-4521


Photo/IllutrationThe renovated women’s washroom at Takaha Kiko in Iizuka, Fukuoka Prefecture (Masahiro Kakihana)

Napoleon Bonaparte famously stated that an army marches on its stomach, meaning keep soldiers well fed if you want to win battles.

Takaha Kiko Co., a small manufacturer here, has a different mantra, but one just as effective in keeping its employees motivated: “Happy Toilet, Happy Employee.”
The company spent a small fortune making its toilet facilities more appealing in the belief that employees would appreciate the gesture.
“It wasn’t a place where we girls could relax," says Akie Yamakawa of her company’s former restroom facilities that lacked even basic comforts like air-conditioning and bidet functions.
Takaha Kiko responded to the women's gripes and refurbished the toilet facilities.
“Now, the bathroom is where I enjoy chatting with part-time workers whom I usually don’t get a chance to talk to while I'm applying makeup," said Yamakawa, 27. "It's much more congenial these days.”
For Yamakawa and her female colleagues, a bathroom break means spending private time in a spacious room, radiantly lit by nine ceiling lamps covered with flower-shaped shades made of Japanese traditional “washi” paper.
The bathroom has three stalls, each equipped with a bidet.
One stall has an iconic image of Audrey Hepburn from the movie classic "Breakfast at Tiffany’s" on the wall.
When the occupant closes the door and sits on the heated toilet seat, the actress’s face, complete with hair styled high in a bun and clasping a long cigarette holder in a gloved hand, is reflected in a mirror on the door.
Another stall is decorated with "girly" wallpaper featuring dozens of tiny hearts.
Employees share a large common space to freshen up and powder their noses. There is even a sink exclusively for gargling.
Takaha Kiko manufactures solenoid, an electronic part used for doors, locking mechanisms at parking spaces, vending machines, cash registers and ticket gates.
Of the 83 employees, 58 are women, or almost 70 percent of the work force.
The women’s bathroom, although always kept squeaky clean, had not had a makeover since Takaha Kiko first set up business in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1979.
The catalyst for change came after the company hired a female university graduate for the first time in spring 2013. The following year, two women, including Yamakawa, joined the company.
Chiho Okubo, 59, a director and wife of the company president, 66-year-old Taisuke, began pondering what she could do to entice new female recruits to stay with the company, and came up with the idea of beautifying the women’s restroom facilities.
Okubo embarked on a tour of Tokyo and checked out restrooms in luxury hotels and commercial establishments popular with young people.
Okubo was not overly impressed with what she found, even though it was obvious a lot of money had gone into the facilities.
To her mind, some bathrooms were in dire need of decoration. Others lacked sufficient lighting to allow a woman to apply makeup with confidence.
“I didn’t feel any warmth or affection,” Okubo recalled.
In fall 2014, she initiated an all-female project team to discuss the ideal restroom. The team members included personnel from Toto, Ltd., a world-famous toilet company headquartered in Kita-Kyushu in the same prefecture.
Having thrashed out ideas, a thoroughly modernized women’s restroom materialized in January 2015, at a cost of 8 million yen ($73,650).
“I wanted to create a restroom where employees feel inspired every time they use it,” Okubo said.
In an aesthetic touch, the interior decorations are revamped on a seasonal basis.
The company then spent 5 million yen renovating the men's bathroom and installing air-conditioning and bidets.
“Women find happiness in small things, such as relaxing in the restroom,” Okubo said. “When women have lots of energy, it inspires men and they also become full of vigor.”
Thanks to the shiny bathrooms, Okubo feels that the corporate climate has changed for the better. “There’s a family atmosphere and employees enjoy working here,” she said.
In other efforts to create a more friendly working environment for women, Takaha Kiko opened an in-house nursery in October 2017 that is currently used by four employees.
It also implemented another successful program called “Morning cafe.” A licensed cook prepares a free breakfast in the office kitchen and serves single employees before working hours.
The company received an award from the prefectural office in 2018 in recognition of its efforts to achieve greater gender equality.

source: http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201902100003.html
by Masahiro Kakihana

http://www.thisoldtoilet.com

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Replacement Toilet Lids and Seats - Monitoring Heart Health, One Toilet Seat at a Time - This Old Toilet 800-658-4521


This smart seat keeps tabs on your heart while you take care of business





Photo: Karl Q. Schwarz
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Time and again, studies show that people are not good at consistently taking medication, following health care plans, or regularly recording health information, even when our doctor tells us to.
And that’s a big problem in health care. In fact, the World Health Organization says that getting people to adhere to medical interventions could have a greater impact on world health than any specific medical treatment.
Now, a team at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York has come up with a clever way to get patients with heart failure to track their heart health—let a toilet do it for them.
Sensors in a new battery-powered, cloud-connected toilet seat track blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, and other heart data as accurately as hospital-grade monitoring equipment in a small group of patients, according to a study in the January issue of the journal JMIR mHealth and uHealth.
The idea of a “smart toilet” isn’t new—Google has a patent on a health-tracking toilet and Japanese manufacturers Toto and Matsushita (now part of Panasonic) have each developed Wi-Fi–connected toilets—but most health-related toilet technologies focus on urine and stool analysis inside the bowl, rather than tracking vital signs using sensors in the seat.
Regular visits to the RIT-developed seat—which involve no more time or effort than a usual trip to the commode—could indicate if a patient’s heart health is worsening and they need to see a doctor, though that claim will need to be tested in a clinical trial. If the monitoring system works as expected, the device could help catch early signs of heart decline and decrease the number of hospitalizations for heart patients.
The only current FDA-approved heart failure monitor, the CardioMEMs HF System, involves implantation of a small pressure sensor into an artery near the heart and requires a patient to lie down on a bedlike electronics unit once per day to capture data.
“We wanted something that can work for everybody, without any change in behavior or habit required,” says toilet seat study coauthor Nicholas Conn, a postdoctoral researcher at RIT.

Photo: Rochester Institute of Technology

The smart seat, developed by Conn and RIT engineer David Borkholder, is waterproof, can be cleaned with any traditional household cleaner, and wirelessly communicates health data directly to the cloud.  
The seat includes three key sensors: an electrocardiogram to measure electrical activity of the heart; a photoplethysmogram (say that three times fast) to measure blood oxygen levels; and a ballistocardiogram. The ballistocardiogram was actually developed in the late 1930s to measure the mechanical force of the heart pumping blood—literally tracking the recoil of the body from the sudden ejection of blood from the heart into the aorta. Ballistocardiography lost favor when echocardiograms were developed, as it was easier and more accurate to take an ultrasound of the heart than measure tiny changes in body movement.
But today, with more advanced instruments to measure that force of blood ejecting from the heart, ballistocardiography has found new popularity. For Conn and Borkholder, it was a perfect way to measure the volume of blood pumped from the heart with each beat, called stroke volume, in a person sitting down.
To test their seat, the team gathered blood pressure and blood oxygenation measurements from 18 volunteers in a laboratory who were instructed to sit on the seat but not urinate, defecate, or talk. Urination and defecation can shift readings since they put minor stress on the body, says Conn. While the system currently operates with algorithms that analyze signal quality, in the future Conn also plans to incorporate algorithms to identify and reject those inevitable bathroom moments from the data set.
But even if a person is fidgety on the toilet and the system fails to record a clean signal, there is always the next time. “If you’re not going to pick it up in the morning, you might pick it up at night. People are going to continuously use this seat,” says Conn.
They also analyzed the stroke volume measurements, a key indicator of heart health, from 38 healthy volunteers and 111 heart patients at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Ultimately, the toilet seat estimates of all three heart measurements were as good as their respective gold standards taken with hospital-grade monitoring equipment, the researchers found.
Last summer, Conn founded a company, Heart Health Intelligenceto commercialize the technology and hopes to partner with a device company to produce it. He is also currently working with MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Texas, to see if the seat can detect early signs of heart damage as a result of chemotherapy or radiation therapy in cancer patients.
source: https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/monitoring-heart-health-one-toilet-seat-at-a-time
by Megan Scudellari

http://www.thisoldtoilet.com