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The restrooms at Houston's airports are heading boldly into the future.

February 21, 2017

Earlier this month, Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airports announced their new “smart bathrooms,” meant to improve communication between travelers and custodial staff.

Travelers will be able to use touch pads to send immediate feedback on bathroom conditions. The system, installed outside of restroom entrances, will prompt travelers to rate their experiences with a happy or sad face.

Courtesy of Houston Airport System

If travelers had a “sad face” time inside the bathroom, the system will ask what went wrong. Travelers can choose between a lack of toilet paper, dirty stalls, wet floors, or a variety of other complaints. Information will then be sent directly to staff so they can remedy the issue.

The smart bathroom technology will also be able to keep track of how many people are passing through stall doors. Once the bathroom’s “set passenger threshold” is met, custodial staff will be alerted that it’s time for a thorough cleaning.  

“Passengers have repeatedly told us through customer survey results that clean and modern restroom facilities rank at or near the top of their priority list,” Houston Airport System Aviation Director Mario Diaz said in a statement.  

The technology is being tested at Houston’s airports over the next few months and may be rolled out to other locations in the near future.

The only caveat is that there’s no way of knowing if the last person to use the touch screen system washed their hands after stopping into the smart bathroom.

Houston isn’t the only airport bringing technology to the toilet. London’s Heathrow Airport installed “smart loos” in 2014 that were capable of sending a notification to custodial staff with every 200 visitors. And Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport won a national award last year for its bathrooms with screens displaying flight information and doors that swing open automatically.

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