Monitoring the status of a unisex bathroom

Years ago, someone at [Chuck]‘s job came up with the brilliant solution of an indicator to display if the unisex bathroom is currently vacant, a men’s bathroom, or a women’s bathroom. The old system worked well, but [Chuck] thought it would be a great idea to display the current status of the bathroom on the large TV in the office, saving his coworkers from getting up only to wait in line until the bathroom became vacant.

Like the previous paper sign, [Chuck]‘s build has three statuses: a men’s room, a women’s room, and vacant with a manual dial that is turned whenever someone is entering or leaving. The new build vastly improves on the paper-based indicator by using a laser cut indicator on a rotary switch.

The electronics are dead simple; just an XBee and a Explorer USB board. Whenever the switch state is changed, the XBee sends a bit of data off to a mac mini and displays the status on the office TV. It may be funny to our immature sense of humor, but it’s still a very nice project.

Comments

  1. Philip says:

    Even though there’s a fancy sign to keep out the other sex, I believe the primary problem still remains unsolved. When you flip the sign to “Women”, there’s still piss all over the seats, walls, floors, and ceiling.

    • Anonymous says:

      Add a servo that automatically lifts or lowers the seats according to which position the dial is in!

    • Hungry_Myst says:

      And when you flip the sign to men there’s still blood all over the seats and tampons in the toilet.

      Women’s bathrooms aren’t as clean as you think they are; my experience has been that all genders are equally dirty.

    • Joey says:

      Philip you realize there are almost no chicks here right? And even if there were you can’t get laid over a message board, so what’s with the putting down of your sex?

      Men today…

      With bros like these…

  2. harviecz says:

    i don’t get it… if the bathroom is occupied why do i need to know who’s inside? i have to wait anyway… Are you making some kind of parties on single toilet seat?

  3. Ames says:

    Pish, gender binary.

    • andar_b says:

      Obviously we all need to get over ourselves and just stop being so self conscious about who we share a restroom with.

    • James Shield says:

      It is tad simple, what about a wheel of gender identity? this is of course for those who love to label everything. which to be fair is most of the species due to optimization of cognitive resources.

      Alternatively leave it as “oh you have genital set a?, use toilet design a, b? use design b. c? we are not sure, send us schematics and we shall get right on that.” and get over humanities petty taboos.

  4. smeezekitty says:

    Or the simplest solution is to remove the need for mindless separation.
    It shouldn’t be necessary.

  5. M4CGYV3R says:

    You know what else works damn well for this purpose? A deadbolt.

  6. echodelta says:

    Put the signs on the stalls, urinal for men only. Assuming they have doors. Leave seats up they stay cleaner, even when you flush.
    Are gays not to go when the male setting is in operation? Grow up it’s an office not a bar or train station.
    A latent gas warning sign might be useful. Another way might be to leave your name tag on the door. That way the squeamish ones can be left with the room all for themselves, but the rest can just “rest”.

    • cde says:

      Because gays are apparently not men to you…

      • Philippe says:

        I don’t think that’s echodelta’s opinion.
        The remark was merely sarcastic.

        Separation of genders and then separation of sexual preferences? What’s next, separate restrooms for boys-turned-girls and girls-turned-boys?

        Completely silly. Don’t know about you but the last place I want to even think about sex is in a restroom.

  7. gz says:

    So in 2007 I got brain damage. It causes me to among other things, read words wrong.

    I read “vacant” as “variant”

    That made the image MUCH more interesting.

  8. Witek says:

    This hack should use the mac mini for face detection & recognition to determine the gender, or you could use the name tags provided they are RFID-enabled.

  9. Vonskippy says:

    Multi-stall unisex bathroom – sounds like a sexual harassment lawsuit just waiting to happen.

  10. John Cage says:

    Reminds me of Ally McBeal.

  11. n0lkk says:

    Around here the few unisex toilet rooms just have one toilet, serving one person at a time. Judging by Chuck’s webpage URL this must be in the US, time for the US get rid of it’s Puritan induced phobias and use the darn toilets.

  12. Pun says:

    The whole “gendered restroom” idea has always been a load of shit (no pun intended). Seriously, what the hell does it matter who’s pissing is the stall next to you? There are locks on the doors and walls everywhere else. So do your business and grow the fuck up. No offence to the hack, but the ideal solution here is much simpler: take down all the arrows and signs and let people use the unisex restroom as a damn unisex restroom.

    • Dave says:

      hear hear.
      Totally agree!

    • Solenoid says:

      It might annoy some women when a man has, with great effort, succeeded to piss on the ceiling… they’re pretty ungrateful and can’t appreciate such accomplishments, so that might be one reason.

    • octel says:

      There are many cases of women being sexually assaulted in restrooms.

      Can you imagine trying to do your business and having some creep spy on you, or worse yet, invade your space?

      Just because you can’t imagine the issue happening doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent.

    • Pun says:

      Solenoid, octel:

      People are going to be assholes no matter where you go or what you do. Segregating restrooms by sex because that’s where the problem seems to be the worst makes about as much sense as racially segregating city streets because records show (at least in the US) that minorities are more often charged with violent crime. Saying that restroom segregation “protects women” is no better than saying that my scenario “protects white people”.

      • octel says:

        White people, especially white men are not an oppressed class in the US.

        You’re saying having bathrooms for specifically for women is tantamount to racism — not sure if you’re a troll or just a complete moron.

      • Pun says:

        Not a troll. Just saying is that our society needs to stop dicking around with segregation and actually address its problems. Sexual harassment is a big deal, and separating restrooms makes the issue harder to see, but solves nothing. Anyone can call themselves oppressed and demand special treatment, but using special treatment to promote equality is fighting fire with gasoline.

  13. steve says:

    Wait, I don’t get it. Why in the world does it matter who’s in there if it’s unisex?????

  14. barryronaldo says:

    Defeats the purpose of a unisex bathroom, which is also kinda silly. Probably also think binary clocks are a great way to tell time lol.

    As a side note I would probably do some “social engineering” and upperdeck the terlets if I were a woman, because you know they are gonna blame that on a guy. I’d poop my way through the glass ceiling and into management, where I’d have my own bathroom without a meter on it :) good times.

  15. Eventhorizon says:

    I really don’t get what this is for aside from knowing who is inside. unless the restroom transforms from a male to female, or vice-versa (uniral hides when a female comes in, toilet hides when male comes in, etc..)

  16. andar_b says:

    Upon second thought, I realized part of the trouble, at least for me. I don’t personally like using urinals unless in an empty restroom, simply because of privacy.

    Many men would be very concerned by the prospect of a woman walking in to the restroom while they’re taking a leak (especially in those restrooms with no partitions around the urinals) and I would suppose the woman would probably be pretty distressed by the idea as well.

    If you’re talking a couple stalls though, the only trouble is looking your coworker in the eye after you finish your plop-and-fart symphony. Man to man or woman to woman it isn’t so bad, but we don’t typically like the opposite gender to know how things ‘go’ in there.

  17. Atomhax says:

    For some reason I thought Vacant said “variant”. I thought that it was an extremely complete project, covering every possible person. Now I realize it says vacant and I feel weird.

  18. Mark A says:

    Where do I move the pointer to when there is a Man and a Woman in the bathroom at the same time?
    And what if the pet dog or cat go into the room?

  19. draeath says:

    So, I have a question.

    What do you do when it’s occupied by BOTH?

    This needs to be a quartered circle, with sexes on the sides, and vacant/mixed on top/bottom.

  20. Eventhorizon says:

    what if the person is “unsure” of where to point? Or what if the person is really in need to take a leak and didn’t have time to adjust the arrow?

  21. Eventhorizon says:

    I would also like to add that this is unhygienic as most men, if not all, wash their hands after taking a leak. Then people go and touch the pointer here and there.

  22. conundrum says:

    Auto hand washing detector would also be useful.
    If not detected, it refuses to unlock the door until said hands have been washed correctly :-)

  23. Uzomechina says:

    I like the status of the day

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