Thinking Tech

Would you play video games at the urinal? [video]

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Captive Media, a U.K. based tech start-up, has turned urinals into fully functional gaming consoles.

It's one of those concepts that immediately makes you wonder "Why didn't I think about?!" Or... perhaps you did. Either way, Captive Media, a U.K. based tech start-up, beat everyone to the punch by turning urinals into fully functional gaming consoles.

The innovative video game system consists of a stand-up potty station wired to a LCD monitor located at about eye level, where visitors would normally be staring at a blank wall. Embedded within the urinal are sensors that can detect where the stream is directed, enabling the player to use his err... joystick to control the action on-screen. Users can choose from a variety of fun games such as On the Piste, an action game where players race a snowmobile through penguin-infested mountains or the trivia game Clever Dick. The most ingenuous one, however, is probably Hosepipe Hero, where you get to hose down fires.

Brits who got a chance to try the system at Cambridge have given their initial reviews of the experience and let's just say they definitely weren't pissed about it. In fact, there was enough enthusiasm that five of the "gaminals" have been installed at The Exhibit Bar in London with plans to power-up more units throughout England in 2012.

"We already had a huge amount of interest in the units from bars, pubs, exhibition centers, and retail outlets across the country and overseas--even though we've been trying to keep a lid on it," Captive Media co-founder Gordon MacSween, told CNET.

And of course any new gaming system these days wouldn't be worth its salty water unless it comes with some kind of social media integration. The system features a live leader-board and, upon completing their gaming session, players can broadcast their peeing prowess by posting their scores on Twitter.

As neat as this innovative concept is, you're probably still wondering why on Earth any establishment would want to retrofit their urinals with this technology. Such systems obviously uses more electricity and it's doubtful that many people would be willing to pay a quarter for what amounts to about a minute's worth of gametime at best.

Captivate hopes to subsidize the system by playing advertisements -- like, for instance, a commercial that encourages patrons to buy another drink at the bar should they want to reload for another gaming session. Not a bad idea, especially when you consider that advertisers would get a truly captive audience.

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure