These Engineers May Have Solved The Most Annoying Thing About Using Public Bathrooms

No one likes awkwardly waiting in line for the bathroom, which is why the engineers over at Made By Many developed a way to see if there are free toilets before you even leave your seat.

It looks like it’s just a fun side project for their office, but there are a lot of places that could use something like this.

The digital advertising and design firm posted a lengthy blog post this week showing how it created a device that tells you when your bathroom is unoccupied.

The team used a cheap, $US35, Raspberry Pi computer, some circuitry components and homegrown software to create the device.

Here’s how it works.

A box housing a Raspberry Pi computer and some strip LED lights would sit on the wall outside the bathroom. The lights are activated by a switch on the bathroom door.

The idea is simple — show a green light if there is at least one toilet free. Otherwise, show a red light. Here’s a prototype of the box made of LEGOs.

When a change is seen, the device would log it and update the website. There’s even an icon that lives in the menu bar in Mac OS X.

Callum Jefferies, the author behind the company’s blog post detailing the idea and a developer at Made By Many, promises that there’s no reason to worry about privacy.

“Privacy was our core concern,” he writes. “The light collectively represents the toilets’ state to prevent distinguishing one toilet from another. It doesn’t know who you are, and it’s not measuring your deposits or anything similarly absurd. “

The device is just a quirky side project for now, but it’s another strange yet useful application that showcases how Raspberry Pi can be used to create unconventional computing devices. Imagine waiting at an airport, amusement park or shopping mall and receiving an alert when the bathroom was free rather than having to wait in long lines.

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