While touch-free toilet technology isn’t exactly new —you’ll find it in airports, Japan, and the SkyMall catalog — leave it to the commode kingpins at Kohler to come up with a DIY retrofit kit for consumers that renders the flusher handle, the bane of germaphobes everywhere, completely obsolete.

Powered by a quartet of (included!) AA batteries, the Touchless Flush Kit is a simple-to-mount in-tank module that’s compatible with most existing single-flush toilets (sorry, dedicated dual-flushers) of the non Ballcock valve variety. In addition to the retrofit kit, Kohler Touchless technology is also currently available pre-installed in the company’s San Souchi and Cimarron model toilets.

Harnessing highly accurate “emerging sensing technology,” the Kohler Touchless kit is a noted departure from the ubiquitous infrared-based sensors found in most self-flushing toilet scenarios (gentlemen who have used a public urinal in the last decade will know what I’m talking about). Instead, the no-touch sensor module installed within the tank projects an electromagnet field to the top of the tank. When the field is interrupted via a simple wave of the hand or similar gesture over the tank, the flushing action is set into motion.

Not too surprisingly, ewww-heavy hygiene issues prompted Kohler to create this innovative new method of bathroom germ avoidance. Explains Brian Hedlund, marketing manager for Kohler’s toilet and bidet division:

In a recent study of 800 U.S. consumers, we found that 51 percent of people surveyed are paranoid about germs in the bathroom. When looking at that same sample group but focusing on moms with children, that number jumps up to 65 percent.

The Touchless flush is a great solution to this growing demand for increased hygiene in the bathroom. Homeowners are of course worried about the hygiene and health of their family members, and the toilet trip lever is an obvious area of hygienic concern. Touchless takes that concern out of the equation, utilizing new technology to provide a touchless way to control the flush.

The kit, which takes about 20 minutes to install by Kohler’s estimates, comes complete with a plug in the event that you want to remove the now-obsolete flush lever and erase any evidence of its former, germ-ridden existence (or you could just leave it in there for nostalgia). And for bewildered houseguests who may not realize they’ve stepped into a flusher-free household, there’s a little hand icon decal you can place atop the tank that indicates where to wave. Still, it's probably a good idea to give Grandpa Earl a quick in-person demo, as awkward as it is, before he heads in there.

Any thoughts? Are you so repulsed by the toilet flush handle in your home that you’d consider forking over $100 for a touch-free upgrade? Even though I'm someone with no qualms about touching the lever to the throne in my own home (dive bars and sports arenas are a different story), I do like the whole DIY retrofit idea. However, I can't help but think that even though you're waving instead of touching, this doesn't mean that you can skip out on giving those hands a good washing before you leave the loo.

Via [Endgadget]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

For $100, you'll never have to touch that germ-encrusted toilet flush handle again
For some there's nothing quite as mortifying as the act of flushing a toilet. With a retrofit kit from Kohler, that dreaded touch is replaced with a wave.