Charmin at CES 2020: RollBot, SmellSense and V.I.Pee as innovation meets absurd

These products won't be available for purchase, but highlight how Charmin and Procter & Gamble think about the market possibilities behind going No. 2.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Charmin is using CES 2020 to highlight innovations that may ultimately improve the bathroom experience, freak you out, or make you chuckle.

Also: More CES coverage at CNET


Marketing, innovation and the absurd collide with the RollBot. 


Either way, the high-tech Charmin pitches make for good marketing.  These "innovations," delivered via Charmin's GoLab, include the following:

  • RollBot: A robot that can be controlled with a smartphone via Bluetooth to deliver a fresh roll of Charmin to you. It self-balances and apparently won't leave you in the lurch when you're out of toilet paper.
  • SmellSense, an electronic sensor system that can let you know how a bathroom smells without experiencing it. These sensors are calibrated to detect carbon dioxide in a "toot or two." There are real enterprise use cases for this feature and employees looking to avoid smells--or get some quiet away from those damn open floor plans--can get a simple go/no go notification when the stench is clear.
  • V.I.Pee, a porta-potty that includes an Oculus Riff S VR so you can see the concert you're missing when you have to go.

It's a bit unclear to me whether the products or puns in the press materials are worse, but Charmin, owned by Procter & Gamble, is using its toilet paper hook to highlight its innovation. P&G is operating a LifeLab at CES 2020 for the second year.

None of those aforementioned Charmin products will be available for retail sale, but don't be surprised if there's some startup that'll try it. SmellSense actually has some potential and could be a unicorn. After all, enough suckers funded WeWork, right? 

A more real-world item in the LifeLab is the Lumi by Pampers, which is an all-in-one connected system designed for a baby's first year. The Lumi has an activity sensor to track sleep, diapering, feeding routines, and other milestones. In other words, baby is going big data. The Lumi system will ship this month.  

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