If you didn’t know already, today is World Toilet Day. At first blush, you may wonder why there’s a need for a World Toilet Day given we take toilets for granted. The sad reality is 2.6 billion people, or 40% of the world’s population – don’t have access to a toilet.

When you think about it – and here’s the technology angle – the toilet really hasn’t changed that much over the past 250 years since Alexander Cummings invented a sliding valve within a toilet bowl called the Strap. Today’s toilets are a little more sophisticated but they are still based on the same technology created in the 18th century. (Here’s a history of the flush-able toilet)

The question is whether technology can be used to create a better toilet – and one that can be rolled out to people who don’t have access to a toilet today. You’d think with composting toilets becoming more popular that they could be a good candidate to take the outhouse into the 21st century.

What’s interesting about toilet technology is how much resistance there seems to change. For example, a popular toilet in Japan is the Washlet, which cleans and dries your backside without the use of paper. Even though 20 million people use them in Japan, the Washlet has made no inroads in Europe or North America.

More: For more information on World Toilet Day, check out this story in the Toronto Star. And for techies interested in the latest and great in toilet technology, Damn Interesting has some insight into what’s happening.

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