Most people are probably used to the restroom experience being a fairly straightforward affair, but one digital signage company has successfully implemented designs that are making this experience even more of an interactive affair for users.
The brainchild of Cambridge engineering graduates Mark Melford and Gordon MacSween, the U.K.-based Captive Media has been transforming European bars since its introduction last November. This revolutionary, interactive media system is placed in men’s restrooms and features a high-definition screen placed eye-level above the urinal. The person watching the screen can control what he sees on it—not through touch but, believe it or not, through direction of stream. He can play specially designed video games (trivia, alpine skiing, etc.) or interact with programs and/or advertising. (Note: Screens can also display special offers, news stories, photos, etc.)
When a user approaches, a proximity sensor flips the unit into gaming mode, and the game begins as soon as the player starts to urinate, triggered by Captive Media's patented sensors. When the game ends, the unit’s network connection picks up the current high-score table for the venue (or chain of venues) and shows this alongside the player’s score. When the game ends, the unit's network connection picks up the current high-score table for the venue (or chain of venues) and shows this alongside the player's score and a secret code. By entering this code at www.captivegames.co.uk, players can post their names on the leaderboard and compete with the best in the bar, the office, etc.
Meanwhile when a unit isn’t being played, it shows ads and promotions, as well as short, tailored content and clips via PTV, the world’s first digital restroom media channel (also managed by Captive Media). There are currently twelve channels that can be selected, and the ads are completely programmable to whatever the advertiser wants.
The Captive Media urinal device features a toughened glass fascia and white acrylic-capped ABS casework and is connected only to a regular power socket and an Ethernet hub.
This past September, Captive Media started up U.S. operations and created a universal version of its digital signage/gaming system that is compatible with most U.S. urinal manufacturers (American Standard, Kohler, etc.). The company is looking for resellers and for customers like bars, hotels, museums, conference centers, sports stadiums, etc.
“We put stickers in the urinal itself just for guiding and showing where to aim, but they have nothing to do with the operation,” says Ed Gundrum, U.S. manager at Captive Media. “The operation detects the heat off the stream of the urine. Another advantage is that it is actually keeping the restrooms cleaner, because people are paying attention to what they’re doing.”
Press coverage and user experience has actually been through the roof, so global expansion shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Right now, plans are afoot to launch these devices in the United Arab Emierates. “There’s no reason we can’t grow globally with this,” says Gundrum. “That’s the grand vision: global competitions. So you can go into your neighborhood bar and compete with someone half-way around the world and see who gets the higher score.”
Gundrum admits, “There’s a certain initial ‘ick’ factor, but once you see it operational and see the reaction of the customers and hear how much fun they’re having, it becomes the buzz of the evening.
“The reason people return with their friends in tow is because they want to go and see it and maybe stay a little longer when they’re there but come back again. That’s the Holy Grail for advertisers.”
Right now, the interactive games can only be played and controlled in men’s rooms, but the company is also working on setting up displays in ladies’ rooms so they can at least watch the content being displayed and get a better idea of the excitement being generated in the next room. (Get your minds out of the toilet here; we’re talking game scores.)
For more information, call 978/474-0187 or visit www.captive-media.co.uk.