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tooshlightsNot really knowing whether that bathroom stall is occupied or not could soon be a thing of the past, reports Ralph Gardner, Jr. in The Wall Street Journal (1/13/14). A startup called Tooshlights proposes to solve this problem by installing "red-and-green traffic signals for the bathroom goer." "There’s no way of knowing without looking through the crack, or trying the door," says Tooshlights co-founder, Allen Klevens. "This is where Tooshlights becomes so important. The lights are either red or green and all your questions are answered."

Allen says the comfort stations at the Hollywood Bowl during performances of the Los Angeles Philharmonic was the impetus for Tooshlights. "Some of the patrons were complaining there was a huge line but the middle stalls were open. There are 60 stalls in there." Tooshlight employs a sensor that signals whether someone is in the stall or not. "When the line of sight is broken it turns the light red," he explains. So far, Tooshlights has been installed in some 85 stalls at the Hollywood Bowl and Allen says he’s also working with a major sports stadium, and a shopping mall group.

The cost, says Allen, is $700 to $800 a stall. Also in the works is an app that will alert users as to the "the nearest restroom … and how many stalls are available." This technology also could affect workplace productivity. For example, a forklift operator would be able to check on restroom availability without dismounting, perhaps saving time. It also suggests branding possibilities. "You can imagine walking into a W Hotel and having the ‘W’ on the stall," says Allen. "For the NFL, our lights are going to look like footballs … It might have the logo of the team."