The annual 4th of July fireworks won’t be the only light show inspiring awe at the Hollywood Bowl this week. Concertgoers at the iconic Los Angeles venue are also ooh-ing and ahh-ing over new technology called Tooshlights, which is reducing restroom wait times.
It’s a simple yet elegant solution to the bane of concert, theater and sports event attendees everywhere. A light above each restroom stall glows green when the stall door is open and turns red when the door is locked, instantly showing which stalls are available. Allen Klevens, co-founder and CEO of Tooshlights, an L.A.-based startup, says that the technology could potentially cut wait times by up to 50 percent. It all gives new meaning to “green means go.”
At the Hollywood Bowl, Tooshlights’ first venue, Klevens says that “During a 20-minute intermission, mostly at the women’s restrooms, there were lines that would go all the way out the door.” Meanwhile, “there were stalls in the middle that were completely vacant and nobody knew,” because doors didn’t open or close properly or loo-goers weren’t paying attention.
A Hollywood Bowl spokesperson confirms that wait times have decreased and “women seem to love it,” although stats aren’t available since the venue’s season just began. So far, Tooshlights are installed in just one of the women’s rooms at the 17,000-plus-seat venue, but there are plans to expand to others.
“Tooshlights help with privacy as well,” the spokesperson says, “as patrons do not have to check under the stalls for feet or push on the doors to see if a toilet is available.”
Tooshlights are inspired by technology at, of all things, L.A. parking garages, which in recent years have been installing similar lighting over parking spaces to indicate which are occupied or available. The difference: “We don’t park cars. We park, um, other things,” Klevens says, with an impish grin.
For Tooshlights, this is just the beginning. The potential market is huge and international: basically anywhere public restrooms are found, from stadiums and performance venues to airports, convention centers and office buildings. Klevens says that Tooshlights is working with venture capitalists to raise funds and plans to install a second generation Tooshlights in select NBA, NHL and NFL stadiums. Among other features, the new, patent-pending technology will be able to flash different colors on demand, such as a football team’s colors when it scores a touchdown.
Klevens estimates that Tooshlights will be in “anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000 stalls” by the end of this year, adding an additional 500 stalls a month in 2015.
Tooshlights can also collect data on restrooms’ usage rates: for example, a consistently green light in a sea of red may tip off the maintenance crew that a loo is out of order or needs to be cleaned. Plans also call for Tooshlights data to be integrated into a venue’s smartphone app, to show in real time which rest rooms have the most vacant stalls, potentially reducing wait times even further.