We first reported on Captive Media’s pee-controlled urinal-based video game technology exactly a year ago, with the firm at the time trialing them in UK bars to see if it’d make a splash with peeing punters there.
It evidently did. The latest news is that the firm has secured $700,000 in early-stage funding to help take the high-tech urinals beyond European shores, with a US launch likely at some point in the near future.
The latest investment comes from six groups, including Cambridge-based technology fund Martlet and tech investor Mike Ullmann of Prodigy Finance.
The technology comprises a 12-inch LCD screen that fits just above the urinal and an infrared beam that detects the direction of a user’s pee. New urinals aren’t required, and few alterations are made to the existing ones, so it’s really just a matter of fitting the screens.
As a visitor to the washroom approaches a urinal, an ad from one of its 12 ‘PTV’ channels begins playing on the monitor. Once the pee begins to flow, it automatically switches to gaming mode, allowing the urinator to engage in games such as Clever Dick and On The Piste using only the power of his pee.
“Sophisticated algorithms then allow the user to do something simple, but very engaging – controlling the system just by aiming their stream left or right,” Captive Media says on its website.
The games have been specially designed to prevent a player splashing outside of the bowl – indeed, the system ensures the majority of the delivery ends up inside the bowl, something that fails to happen all too often in some drinking establishments.
The system has proved so popular with the peeing public that its maker has even launched an online score center to show off the scores of the most skillful players.
Commenting on the success of the system, Captive Media co-founder Mark Melford said in a statement, “Since receiving a huge amount of media attention, we’ve been overwhelmed with enquiries from all over the world. People are responding to the fun, the interactivity and ‘talkability’ of our medium. Through the games and element of competition we’re really putting ‘social’ and outdoor media together for the first time.”
Bars, restaurants, hotels and airports are showing a keen interest in the urinal-based technology, while an increasing number of businesses are looking to advertise their wares on PTV.
“According to published research, the average visit time for a UK male is 55 seconds – equivalent to two standard TV ad slots,” its maker said, claiming that “test promotions with brands have resulted in sales spikes of over 40 percent.”