TechnoFILE is copyright and a registered trademark © ® of
Pandemonium Productions.
All rights reserved.
E-mail us Here!

Sensor Pump

Soap Dispenser Brings High Tech Cleanliness to the Loo

By Jim Bray
January 28, 2011

Here's one for the paranoid among us: simplehuman has brought to market a sleek and high tech-looking hand soap dispenser whose motion-controlled design helps keep you from contracting cooties.

It's the simplehuman "sensor pump", a device the simplehumans who thought it up say dispenses just the right amount of soap "Quick, easy and touch-free – to help prevent the spread of harmful germs."

Ah, yes. Let's live in fear, shall we? Heck, the simple human race managed to survive many thousands of years, all the while touching things others have touched before us – but now, all of a sudden, it's unhealthy for us to touch a soap dispenser?

I wish I'd had the foresight to invest in one of the companies marketing those hand cleaners you see practically everywhere these days…

Anyway, that rant having been ranted, this is still a pretty cool soap dispenser. It's quite large – about eight inches tall – and its look is modern and clean. It works quite well, too. All  you have to do is stick your paw under the sensor to have the pump spew soap, hand sanitizer, lotion, or whatever else you want to spew, automatically.

Heck, if you mounted the thing high enough you could fill it with Scotch and sneak a little schluck as you pass by, scoring a snootful by sticking your snout under the sensor.

Now that's progress!

You can control the flow, too, with a little plus/minus rocker switch on the top. You can go from "nearly enough but just annoyingly too little" to "you'll be rinsing for a while, simple human." Or, in the case of scotch dispensing: "Thanks, and Good night!"

The company's raison d'etre, according to its website, is to make what they say are tools for efficient living. "We all have daily tasks we want to do faster, things that take up too much space," they proclaim, "And projects we want to organize. simplehuman is committed to designing products that help efficiently achieve these goals."

One thing that wasn't nearly as simple as I thought it would be was getting the dispenser fired up in the first place. You have to  undo screws on the unit's bottom to put in the four "AA" batteries you'll need to bring the thing to life like the old top hat did for Frosty the Snowman. Well, maybe not that much alive…

I'm not sure why they chose screws rather than just some kind of sliding plastic cover like you find on remote controls and the like, but that's the route they chose to go. It shouldn't be a big deal, but I made the mistake of unscrewing the little battery compartment door on the marble vanity top on which I was going to use the sensor pump. And wouldn't you know it? One screw, per Murphy's Law, leapt from the screwdriver and slid rapidly across the marble top, disappearing down the drain of the sink.

Fortunately, I had a similar enough screw that I could use instead and I got the unit fired up without further ado. It took a few adjustments after that to get the soapy spew just how I like it, but now the thing works fine. It has even elicited some comments from guests, and isn't that what life's all about?

The sensor is very sensitive, too, so be careful when you're cleaning not only the sensor pump itself but close around it as well, lest you find yourself suddenly wet and smelling like scotch.

The opening into which you dump the substance you want dispensed is nice and large – and not closed by screws – so refilling is straightforward. And the reservoir, which is quite large, is transparent, so you always know how much time you have before you'll have to run out and get a big refill jug.

There's also an LED that lights up green when the sensor is activated and which turns red when the battery power gets low.  

The $50 sensor pump is available in brushed nickel or black. There are two "lower end" models of the sensor pump as well. The "spout sensor soap pump", retails for $34,99, while the "plastic sensor pump" sells for $29.99.

Among simplehuman's other products are a nifty-looking robot trash can that looks as good as the sensor pump and which is supposedly smart enough to know the difference between when you're merely walking by the can and when you're actually approaching it to toss something in.  It lists on their site for either $225 or $275, depending on its capacity.

And there's an airtight and supposedly dog-tight kibble container that looks quite intriguing as well. They want $120 for it.

The stuff isn't cheap, but if the sensor pump is any indication it's pretty cool nonetheless and works as advertised.  

Now if only I could get that screw back out of the drain easily!

Copyright 2011 Jim Bray

Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

We welcome your comments!