The Cleanest Toilet EVER and 9 Other Smart, Green Products Heading To Your Home

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This post is part of the “Future of Business” series, which examines how cutting-edge technologies are rapidly reshaping our world, from how businesses run to how we live. “The Future of Business” is sponsored by SAP.

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Toto washlet toilet

Photo: Toto

Our homes need to get smarter and less wasteful if we really want to address big problems in our world like climate change.Fortunately, some of the smartest minds on the planet are coming up with ingenious ways to make that happen.

Nest: the self-learning thermostat

Self-programmable thermostat Nest can lower your heating and cooling bills by 20 per cent. It does this by learning your preferences and automatically adjusting the temperature.

You treat it like a normal thermostat, turning it up when you're cold and turning it down when you're hot. It learns your temperature setting patterns, can sense the weather, and will automatically change the temperature when you're out of the house.

It was designed by Tony Fadell, who worked on some of Apple's most popular products, like the iPod and iPhone.

RavenBrick: A smart window that heats and cools your house

Eyeglasses have lenses that darken and lighten according to the light. Now, windows can do that, too.

The RavenWindow is a smart window for homes and office buildings that reflects the sun's heat. When it's hot, it darkens and blocks heat. When it's cool, it lightens and lets the sun in. It saves up to 30% on bills, without using any electricity itself.

Toto: smart toilets that eliminate toilet paper

To most people, going green in the bathroom typically means a toilet that uses less water. But to Toto, it means a toilet that gets rid of toilet paper.

The Toto Washlet is a toilet and bidet in one. By cleansing you with water, it reduces the need for toilet paper.

CeeLite Technologies: A brand new kind of flexible lightbulb

CeeLite Technologies has created a flat and flexible light bulb.

It uses energy-efficient 'light emitting capacitor' (LEC) technology and can turn any surface, flat or curved, into a light source.

It might also give you a warm, fuzzy feeling to know that CeeLite moved its manufacturing facilities out of Taiwan and into the U.S. in 2011. Its light panels are made in a suburb of Philadelphia.

Philips: Wi-Fi mood-enhancing light bulbs

It's not enough to eliminate incandescent bulbs from your home in favour of more energy efficient varieties like CFLs and LEDs. The smartest homes can control their light bulbs via smartphones.

A new wave of Wi-Fi bulbs hit the market recently, including GreenWave Reality's Connected Lighting Solution and the Philips Hue LED bulbs, sold through Apple. Hue is really cool. The bulbs display white light and a number of other colours, controlled through an iPhone app.

ThinkEco: An upgrade to the humble electric outlet

The humble power outlet is getting smarter. Smart plugs are devices that you plug into your outlets. You then plug your appliance into the smart plug, which helps reduce your energy bills.

Smart plugs ratchet down energy consumption when an appliance is in standby mode. Some of them add fancy features, too, like letting you control your appliances remotely, over the Internet.

Examples include ThinkEco's Modlet and the Digi XBee Smart Plug.

SmartThings: Add smarts to any object you choose

SmartThings connects everyday objects to the Internet to make them smarter.

That means that anything that can be plugged in, turned on, open or shut, or moved around can be monitored with the SmartThings platform. Doors, windows, appliances, your dog, you-name-it. It's all turned into an app for your smartphone.

SmartThings started as an uber-popular Kickstarter project raising $1.2 million in September.

HomeGrid: The smarter alternative to Wi-Fi

There's a new way to do home networks besides W-iFi. It goes by a bunch of names: G.hn, Gigabit home networking, and HomeGrid.

It creates very high speed in-home networks using existing household wires from phone lines and cable TV.

Not only is it a faster alternative to Wi-Fi for streaming music and videos, but power companies plan to use it for Smart Grid applications to help manage a home's power use.

BioSolar: Biodegradable solar panels

Most solar panels today rely on petroleum to produce the film that collects energy. But Bio Solar is working on a panel made from plant materials like cotton and castor beans.

This would make the production of solar panels more earth friendly. Plus, if a panel breaks, it can be safely thrown away.

EcoDesignz: Bamboo bras and underwear

Fast growing bamboo has quickly become the eco-friendly alternative for hardwood floors, but did you know it also produces super soft, moisture wicking clothes?

That makes it an ideal green, renewable fibre to produce underwear like bras and socks. Clothing manufacturers like EcoDesignz already offer a full line of bamboo undergarments.

Here's how companies come up with great ideas ...

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