Head Games

April 20th, 2003

Strange things are afoot in the world of Human-Computer Interactions. This month at CHI 2003, the biggest annual HCI-related conference on the planet, bathroom talk was all the buzz.

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology students Dan Maynes-Aminzade and Hayes Solos Raffle presented what I assume is the world’s first urine-based computer interface: “You’re In Control.” They built a special urinal fitted with sixteen pressure sensors that detect the location of the user’s urine stream.

    At eye-level above the urinal a video game appears, complete with jumping hamsters and a simulated urine stream that’s mapped to the location and movement of the user’s real urine stream. Hit a hamster and it turns yellow, screams and spins out of control as your score increases by ten points. The MIT students even built a penis simulator that allows women to spray water into the urinal. A urinal like this might persuade the neighborhood pub’s patrons to refuel by purchasing more beer.

    Toilet Entertainment System

  • Swedish design students Par Stenberg and Johan Thoresson presented the Toilet Entertainment System, which collects a user’s interests while he or she sits on the toilet, and then prints out customized news content on the toilet paper. It “keeps you discreetly entertained while visiting the toilet,” according to the inventors. My advice for the future: be afraid. And prepare yourself for longer bathroom lines.
  • Human Factors International distributed free calendars to conference attendees. For the month of April the HFI calendar features a cartoon about potential toilet interfaces of the future.



  • 7 Responses to “Head Games”

    1. comment number 1 by: jessica

      i guess i didn’t realize that the bathroom had such versatility. i’ve learned something today! 🙂

    2. comment number 2 by: persuasive technology lab

      The MIT urinal interface seems similar to the Optilex, a vocabulary building technology designed by jared kopf in Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab

      “Smarter dumb objects”

    3. comment number 3 by: Ardioi

      I want in! I’m laughing my ass off just thinking about all the different mob ideas. Someone put me on the list for NYC, I would love to participate.

      People are way too paranoid, just STFU and have fun.

    4. comment number 4 by: alan

      people flash mobbing is a fantastic idea/work of art if anyone knows of how i can get involved please e-mail me i live in oxford uk. there has been one flash mob in london and i want to get involved again please e-mail me at

    5. comment number 5 by: mark Grissom

      Let it be as it is. If you want to organize it and control it, you devalue it. Freakin just have fun with it. We need some fun after the crap we’ve been through the last few years. No boundaries. No country or state borders. If you want to participate, be the one to have an original idea and, as a modern cliche goes, JUST DO IT…. and have fun with it. This doesn’t take a genius to execute. Just a creative mind to have come up with it…..whenever or whoever it was. I don’t care. Again, have fun….it’s benign.

    6. comment number 6 by: Random Musings

      you’re in control!

      I read this quite awhile ago on Sean Savage’s website and realized I never mentioned it on here. Two students from MIT developed the “You’re In Control (Urine Control)” video game system. In short, the took the standard American urinal…

    7. comment number 7 by: dog gift

      dog gift

      dog gift