For blokes, toilet games of pee-pee marksmanship are as old as Thomas Crapper’s throne itself. Pick your target, aim your stream and let nature take its course.
Apart perhaps from the advent of the flush, it’s a pastime that hasn’t ever had any meaningful technological accompaniment brought to it. It is, after all, merely a trip to the loo and one (particularly in public places) that we usually want to get over and done with as quickly as possible.
That may all be set to change though thanks to a new product from Captive Media. They’ve been trialling the UK’s first “hands-free urinal videogame”, set for installation in bars and clubs up and down the country in 2012.
Featuring a 12-inch LCD screen with an Atom-dual core microprocessor running Windows 7 embedded, Captive Media’s urinal game features a patented contact-less sensor unit that tracks the heat and movement of a user’s urine stream. It’s a bit like a Wii motion-sensor for wee.
The gaming element comes from a user’s ability to aim their stream to control onscreen action. A number of games (with wry names like “On the Piste” for a downhill skiing slalom and “Clever Dicks” for a quiz challenge) require the user to aim their urine left or right into the urinal bowl to take down targets or select answers to questions. Everything is controlled via motion; from walking up to the urinal to start the game to taking part in the challenges, it’s a hands-free experience that’s as sanitary as taking a whizz ever can be (providing you wash your hands, of course).
The whole system is “retrofitable” too; as the unit sits above the urinal bowl, no extra plumbing is required, and can be fitted into a bar’s existing toilet area within a few hours without much disruption.
It’s silly fun for toilet-bound bar customers, with online leaderboards, optional Twitter integration and the potential for promotional competitions for high scorers, but also encourages cleanliness.
“The origins you can trace back to the fly in the urinal at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam,” revealed Mark Melford, Captive Media director.
“It’s been there for a long time, specifically for the purpose of helping men aim, and it works. The company that make them published research stating that washrooms employing their fly-printed urinals are 85% cleaner. Our idea asks wouldn’t it be even better if that fly moved around, to design a machine where you can play a game that’s genuinely interactive?”
But there’s also a tightly crafted business element too. According to ADMEDIA, the average male toilet break is 55 seconds, enough time for two decent-length advertisements, or (slightly worryingly) 9 months worth of adverts across the course of a man’s life. Captive Media’s screens are perfectly placed to capitalise on these loo breaks with advertising. And just because ladies may not have quite the same interest in the competitive possibilities of peeing, the length of time women often have to queue to use club loos makes the screen tech just as valuable to advertisers in their stalls too.
It’s also good news for bar owners. A trial run in the Ta Bouche bar in Cambridge saw 45% of the venue’s customers state they would definitely stay longer or return because of the system, while a Corona beer promotion advertised through the units saw sales rise 47%.
“We expect any bar that installs [the units] to re-coup their costs in less than a year of installation because they have an impact on sales,” explained Melford.
“Firstly because of the promotional punch, and secondly because they cause a buzz around the bar, and improve footfall to the venue.”
“We already had a huge amount of interest in the units from bars, pubs, exhibition centres and retail outlets across the country and overseas – even though we’ve been trying to keep a lid on it,” added Captive Media co-founder Gordon MacSween.
“It’s a tough time for bars and pubs currently. This product offers customers something fun, and unlike anything they’ve seen before. Those are two good reasons to go out for a drink at a time when so many are opting to stay in.”
For more info, visit www.captive-media.co.uk.
By Gerald Lynch | November 25th, 2011