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Tags: HomeworkOne

Smart Showerhead Unit
- Annabelle Cho’s Design


The activity of taking a shower is not merely to clean dirt from the body.
It is a complex psychological-physical experience that is pleasurable and enjoyable to the individual who uses the shower daily. It provides a respite or an escape from the daily grind – the problem and cares of daily living.
Thus, in designing a shower unit, we need to think of the shower experience as a unique daily occurrence that is memorable in one’s daily experience, an experience that can be enhanced by incorporating images, sights, and sounds that help to recall pleasurable experiences for the user.

If the above statements are correct, then the context of the shower experience has to be that of a “mini-vacation”, a sacred “timeout” from reality.
It is therefore an important therapeutic measure that has a restorative effect on the user’s psyche, and needs to be viewed as such. Thus, one might consider the shower experience to be “medicine for the soul.”

My model will have:
  1. A multiple showerhead, ejecting pulses of water under high pressure, engineered to deliver a pleasurable sensation upon impact on the skin. These showerheads can also dispense soapy water, body conditioner, perfume and detergent at will.
  2. Music, surround sound hi-fi (tweeters, woofers, boomers,) which can be synchronized to the pulses of water, and kaleidoscopic lights, giving a rhythmic experience involving three separate senses of sight, sound and feel.
  3. A retractable seat that will allow users to sit down while having the shower. This is an option that will be greatly appreciated by users who might have some medical disability or weakness.
  4. The entire shower unit should be made of fiber glass for maximum durability, strength and minimum weight.
  5. The entire shower unit should be mounted on rollers which then allow for the entire unit to slide in and out of its outer shell, thus facilitating maintenance, replacement of parts and/or repairs.
  6. While taking a shower, we can get a foot massage and wash one’s feet with a showerhead mounted near the floor.
Based on these features, we can get a service of different shower patterns from the showerhead.


This degree of opulence described above may seem unwarranted, but the author feels that present-day society is more than ready for it. This design incorporates the seven Principles of Universal Design, namely Equitability, Flexibility, Simplicity, Perceptibility, Tolerance for error, Low physical effort and Size and Space.
It is important when designing to ensure that the strongest, lightest, smallest, simplest and cheapest product is made, and the marketing the product is given much thought. In addition, designers need to think of equitability issues, flexibility of use without adaptation, tolerance of error and other social issues.
Notwithstanding the above, one might still fault the design as unrealistic or overly complicated, and therefore difficult to manufacture. However, the author believes that present-day technical advances will readily permit such a design.
Still, others, like John Thackara (the author of his famous book “In the Bubble”) may argue that although technologically feasible, it might still be better not to design such a unit, as one would then be giving in to hedonistic impulses.
It is interesting to note that concurrent with this design, there is a similar design that has been described, and possibly marketed, by a team at the Center for Universal Design at the North Carolina State University. They have described their design which they have called “the Universal Design,” in great detail. That design, however, is limited to facilitating the taking of showers by disabled people who have been relegated to wheelchairs (
Their module, however, is much simpler and more basic compared with Cho’s unit, and has none of the refinements I have described.


In designing and in inventing new products, designers and inventors need to take into account customer needs and wants. This product caters solely to their wants, not their needs. Whether the design promotes a decadent life-style remains an open question.


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Page last modified on October 11, 2006, at 04:53 PM