There is no safe space anymore; not from ads, at least. Gone are the days when going to the bathroom was a private experience — thanks to a Dutch toilet startup, businesses will now be serving you ads while you’re … doing your business. And almost to add insult to injury, these “smart” toilets won’t play ads at any odd hour of the day. Rather, they’ll wait for you to start emptying your bladder first. Ironically enough, the startup is called Mr.Friendly, though it seems that few folks will have particularly friendly feelings about this particular urinal.
On the company’s website, the Mr. Friendly (which is also the name of its product) is heralded as a “unique, waterless urinal that provides great advertising potential.” And it is true that advertisers will be presented with a captive audience — after all, once one decides to stand in front of a urinal, there’s no leaving for at least some time. As such, Mr. Friendly goes so far as to guarantee “40 seconds of a gentleman’s attention.”
The ads are played on a built-in display, and somehow, Mr.Friendly has also included a “Cloud Control Center” that allows users (if you can even call them that) to manage ads remotely. It’s unclear why anyone would want to do that, though.
“Mr.Friendly understands the importance of finding a way to communicate when a person is most open to receiving information,” the website continues. “The best moment to do this is when a person cannot escape to do something else, and can only focus on your message.This happens seldom, especially in our busy modern world.”
So really, it’s like holding someone hostage while they’re emptying their bladder.
While smart toilets themselves seem like quite a smart idea — what wouldn’t we give to never have to clean a toilet again? — Mr. Friendly’s urinals seem to apply the “smart” label rather liberally. Perhaps the big saving grace of the appliance is that it purports to be both “waterless and cost-effective,” and apparently neutralizes odor as well. But alas, it’s hard to see all of that when you can’t see past the advertising-playing screen in front of your face.