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Toilet Tuesday: Of Course There's an App for Pooping

Our weekly look at the loos that matter.


Welcome back to our weekly look at public restroom-related news from around the globe.


What does it say about human nature that iPoo, a 2009 smartphone app specifically geared to be used on the toilet, has racked up almost 300,000 downloads? Probably a lot. The Toronto Star checked in recently with one of the program's three creators, who revealed that he and his buddies have been able to leverage their (cr)app's success into property investments and a successful run through Harvard Business School. Amit Khanna, a former teacher who lives near Toronto, told the paper that “[w]e were surprised but not totally shocked" about iPoo's ripple-making impact.

So what is this amazing technology? According to its website, iPoo is a "social community that brings together pooers from around the world." Users can scout out who's moving their bowels in the immediate vicinity, see who used their bathroom stall before them, scrawl "graffiti" on virtual walls and collect points to become an "iPoo super user," whatever that is. iPoo may be entertaining but it's hardly unique. Among other fecal-themed apps on the market is “PooPal,” which allows poopers to calculate the time they spend on the can in terms of company dollars as well as mimic coughing when a little auditory camouflage would be beneficial.


How cities should handle homeless people camping in public restrooms is an enduring urban question. In Clearwater, Florida, officials think they've found a solution: Just weld the all the bathroom doors shut. Faced with vagrants loitering around Crest Lake Park, the city sent crews out to seal off all the restrooms in a strike mission that's baffled even non-homeless park-goers. One father told ABC News that he now had no place to potty-train his child, and wondered ominously where the loiterers were peeing now. A homeless man complained, "They're trying to make it as inconvenient as possible, to get you out of town."

But the authorities are sticking to their guns, reasoning that the parks restrooms were perpetuating the problem of homelessness. For that reason, they also cut off the power to a park in downtown Clearwater, because disheveled-looking people were charging their phones there.


Which Hollywood star recently had to deny reports that he was "trapped in an airplane toilet for 20 minutes because he could not reach the door handle"? The answer lies within this Starpulse item.


From the Wall Street Journal article "'World's Largest Toilet' Aims To Be Flush With Tourists," about a monumental commode in the city of Ichihara:

Designed by architect Sou Fujimoto, it is a 200 square meter landscaped space where the sky is above you and you are surrounded by rows of flower boxes. Within this outdoor garden-cum-porta-potti is a two-meter tall glass box and herein lies the throne. (Unfortunately for the gentlemen, this lavatory is women’s only.) There is a curtain that can be pulled should the protective glass encasement feel too transparent as well as another lock for the insecure (the first lock is the fence door).

Annual operating costs of the luxurious outhouse, and another bathroom nearby, total Y9.87 million, or roughly $125,000.

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.