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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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High-tech toilet maker tries to make splash

Associated Press

Scott Pinizzotto is accustomed to getting giggles whenever he brings up the subject of high-tech toilet seats that rinse and warm people’s bottoms.

Yet he continues to believe he’s sitting on a potential gold mine.

“This is the next evolution of the toilet,” Pinizzotto says of the Swash, an upscale seat made by his San Francisco startup, Brondell Inc. “We are trying to educate people that there is a more hygienic and comfortable way to go to the bathroom.”

Introduced nearly a year ago, the Swash is designed to transform a run-of-the-mill toilet into a bidet — a device that cleanses with a spray of warm water, relieving people from the hassles of toilet paper. The Swash features heated seats, too, and its high-end model also comes with a warm-air dryer and a remote control.

Pampering the posterior isn’t cheap. The Swash retails for $429 to $549, yet sales have risen by nearly 50 percent every three months, said Pinizzotto, the company’s co-founder and chief executive.

Ex-official denies chip implant doubts

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson wants to set the record straight: Despite some buzz to the contrary, he still is willing to have a radio-frequency chip implanted in his arm.

After leaving President Bush’s cabinet this year, Thompson joined the board of VeriChip Corp., which makes implantable chips that can be wirelessly read by medical personnel. Each chip broadcasts a number tied to a patient’s medical records.

When he joined the company in July, Thompson said he “absolutely” would have a chip put in his arm and had no concerns.

Recently, however, radio-chip opponents Liz McIntyre and Katherine Albrecht determined that Thompson hasn’t actually gotten a chip. McIntyre and Albrecht put out a news release to say a VeriChip spokesman had told them that Thompson was “too busy” and still investigating the technology.

Thompson told The Associated Press recently that he isn’t having second thoughts. He said he wants to wait until VeriChip signs up enough hospitals to use the technology.

Survey: Interest in MP3 players grows

Shutterbugs, time to face the music. Portable digital music players are now on par with digital cameras as the most wanted electronics items, a new survey finds.

More than one in five U.S. consumers, or 22 percent, say they plan to buy an MP3 player in the next three months, up from 13 percent from last year, according to the Ipsos Insight survey. Meanwhile, digital cameras held steady at 22 percent for the third year in a row.

Interest in cell phones and personal computers dropped this year, though at 20 percent and 21 percent, respectively, they remain high on wish lists.

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