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Tooshlights: Has the internet of things solved the big toilet problem?

If all public toilets were this clean we'd be very happy

It’s been a bad year. I recognise that. But in this storm-cloud-laden sky of bad news, I have one shard of glorious sunlight: in The Future, you’ll never need to check whether a public toilet is occupied! Yes, thanks to the gloriously named Tooshlights, the internet of things has finally solved a real problem.

In fact, Tooshlights’ answer is so simple I want to kick myself for not thinking of it earlier. You replace the normal lock with a “smart latch” that connects to a light above it. Unlocked? The light’s green. Locked? It’s red. So now you know where to go if you need to go.

You might be thinking that this doesn’t rely much on the internet: couldn’t you have a direct wireless connection between the sensor and the light? And of course, you’re right. But then the company behind Tooshlights, Modus Systems, wouldn’t be able to use terms such as “smart restroom traffic management system”.

It’s only because I’m so impressed with the simplistic beauty of the idea that I’ll let Modus Systems get away with such ridiculous management speak. Who, really, was sitting in the boardroom and thought “hmm, smart restroom traffic management system, what a cracking name!” Surely someone pooh-poohed it?

How Tooshlights works
Too good to be true? When it comes to smart toilets, there’s always a catch

Anyway, there is a reason behind having the internet as the foundation of the system. If you run a public venue with multiple toilets, installing Tooshlights could help you with planning: data showing that some areas are always busy has obvious benefits. And there’s nothing to stop you creating signage to direct people to the places with more empty stalls.

Modus Systems announced the Tooshlights at the LightShow West in California earlier this week, but remember what I said about this being The Future? According to an email the company sent to LA Biz Journals, it will be “working to fulfil requests [from the US and internationally] within the year”.

And the price? That appears to be a trade secret, but when Tooshlights was first announced the install price was said to be between $300 and $800. As Robin would say, “Holy crap, Batman!”

Read next: How do I set up a security camera to look after my dog? 

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About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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