New KDDI service to help people in need find empty toilet cubicles

by

Staff Writer

Tired of waiting in a long line to use the bathroom? The internet may offer a solution.

Major telecommunications carrier KDDI Corp. will launch a service to let people know how many cubicles are occupied through smartphones and computers.

Sensors in the cubicles detect when the doors are closed. These sensors are connected to a separate gateway device that uses KDDI’s telecommunication network to send information to a remote server. This data provides real-time updates to a website telling the waiting person how many cubicles are currently available in a particular location.

KDDI will start selling the service to facility owners from March.

“People often waste time by looking around for an available toilet on various floors or by waiting until one becomes available,” said KDDI spokesman Daisuke Maruo. “We believe this service will help people waste less time.”

The sensor will also send an email to a facility administrator when a toilet is occupied for too long. KDDI says this will help administrators deal with any possible accidents or troubles that may occur.

KDDI says it will launch the service at office buildings first. Then it plans to install the system in public restrooms at sports stadiums, train stations, shopping malls and other locations where the facilities are often crowded.

“Even though people sometimes complain that the number of bathrooms in a building are not enough, it is often hard for facility administrators to increase the numbers,” Maruo said. “We believe this solution will help solve the problem by streamlining how bathrooms are used.”

Meanwhile, KDDI will also start a service that analyzes and controls the amount of water used to flush toilets through use of an internet-connected valve.

The valve analyzes the amount of time a person was in the cubicle and then dispenses just enough water to flush the toilet.

Although some toilets installed in Japanese houses and apartments have “small” and “big” flushing options, which control the amount of water used, office bathrooms do not always have such options, Maruo said, adding that KDDI believes the service will help facility administrators to save about 40 to 50 percent on the amount of water used for flushing.

Some other companies, including Itochu Techno-Solutions Corp., have sold similar the internet of things bathroom services.