back to article Years of development, millions of lines of code, and Android can't even run a toilet

Bork goes NSFM (Not Safe For Mealtimes) today with a snapshot of Android going places where Windows fears to tread: the gentlemen's facilities of a German motorway service station. Android gets embedded in the most interesting of places. In this case, not-so-smart urinals, judging by the images sent in by Register reader and …

  1. Simon Harris

    Not flushed with success

    I hope its inability to flush its buffers won’t lead to any overrun errors.

    1. b0llchit Silver badge

      Re: Not flushed with success

      There was an overflow because of a disk full error. There were no survivors.

    2. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Not flushed with success

      It's just taking the piss.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Not flushed with success

        Presumably it can still take the piss even in this state?

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not flushed with success

          It's attached to a urinal - so it won't be a 'log file full' error

          1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

            Re: Not flushed with success

            It's the piss-of-death

            1. b0llchit Silver badge

              Re: Not flushed with success

              Resulting in a yellow-brown screen of death?

    3. W.S.Gosset

      Re: Not flushed with success

      They're in the synch.

  2. Boufin

    Video over IP? Or IP over Video?

  3. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    I think all of us have a duty to urinate over whatever advert is showing.

    Maybe if the advertisers see their product is promoted by a piss-stained image they might stop this crap.

    Oh, no, what are the toilets like...

    1. hoola Silver badge

      I supposed it depends what the adverts are:

      Looking at what is on the walls the gents toilets on Motorway Services:

      Erectile Dysfunction

      Online Casinos

      Car Leasing

      Now if they are smart do they sense someone in front of the appliance (is that what it is?) and then display an appropriate advert..........

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        It could be interrogating your phone as you stand there, checking on BlueTooth, WiFi and seeing what it can find. Or just linking what identifiers it can back to the mothership and then squirting an appropriate advert at you.

  4. Mast1

    I diagnose acute urinary retention in the Android.

    The WEEE directive only comes into effect at the end of its life.

    1. apolodoro

      Acute urinary retention can lead to uromycitisis poisoning.

  5. Shady


    …are they touching the touch screen with?

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: WTF…

      Probably a pointy conductive organ...

    2. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

      Re: WTF…

      Using a pen is likely

  6. heyrick Silver badge

    Isn't this a solution looking for a problem?

    I mean, FFS, a special uses-less-water urinal likely does more eventual environmental damage due to being wildly overengineered rather than some simple easy to repair mechanical contraption, like, oh, I dunno, a push knob that doesn't spew water for thirty seconds?

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

      Re: Isn't this a solution looking for a problem?

      A PIR sensor would be simpler.

      But that wouldn't show ads, which is the actual point of this.

      A PIR sensor next to a poster?

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: Isn't this a solution looking for a problem?

        @Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells "A PIR sensor would be simpler."

        PIR sensor, is that a Piss Intensity Recognition sensor?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Isn't this a solution looking for a problem?

        PIR flush toilets are already a thing.

        "Bathroom Toilet Sensor Urinal Flush Valve Infrared Urinal Sensor Dc 6V Accessories..." 186 baht, less than £5 for the valve and sensor if you want to retrofit it.

        It's funny Econal's diagram says "smart urinal service and maintenance", as if you can remotely add urinal cakes and clean it with a brush remotely! No substitute for the cleaner cleaning the toilets regularly. Obviously the purpose of that is to shove adverts in front of people, BUT I bet they've used a standard tablet, which means it likely still has its camera and mic. The OS updating automatically is probably what's borked it too.

    2. Wally Dug

      Re: Isn't this a solution looking for a problem?

      Well, excuse me, but I'd rather not have "a push knob that doesn't spew water for thirty seconds" when I am partaking of a function within a public convenience.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Isn't this a solution looking for a problem?

      I'm afraid it's part of a long list of legal breaches by the operators of the service station concessions in Germany who know a captive market and a lazy regulator when the see them. Toilets are supposed to be free to use but no longer are: you have to pay for a ticket that you can redeem when you buy something from a shop. And, because most service stations are full of HGVs (presumably including many of those not running in the UK) the outgoing government has a wheeze to encourage even more of them…

      But the any environmental damage is likely to be limited: most of the places have taken advantage of generous government subsidies for solar panels and, are thus, largely off-grid.

      1. NATTtrash

        Re: Isn't this a solution looking for a problem?

        Toilets are supposed to be free to use but no longer are: you have to pay for a ticket that you can redeem when you buy something from a shop.

        Not even that any more I'm afraid. They all followed the "SaniFair" model, which is now pay 0.70 and be redeemed for 0.50. So having a wee is charged 0.20, and the being free is not even camouflaged any more.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Isn't this a solution looking for a problem?

          I know, it's being observed in the breach because the regulator is in bed with the operators.

    4. RLyons

      Re: Isn't this a solution looking for a problem?

      Even Simpler - the Waterless Urinal:

    5. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

      Re: Isn't this a solution looking for a problem?

      Agreed, it kills me the lengths we go to to save a small amount of "the most abundant substance on the planet" (Except for stupidity, there really is far more stupidity). Toilets that constantly clog, washing machines that now take 4 times longer to wash a load of clothes and now burn 4 times the electricity and don't get your clothes clean, etc.

      Instead of making defective products to save minuscule amounts of water, change the way we use water! Don't use potable drinking water to flush toilets! Just like I water my lawn with recycled waste water, that same water can be used in public toilets! Yes it would mean infrastructure upgrades, but it would effectively SOLVE a problem!

      But that will never happen, because that would solve a problem and we can't actually solve problems, we just have to keep the problems going to we can claim "CLIMATE CHANGE"! Just like the political leaders on NYC blame CLIMATE CHANGE for the flooding and not the fact they have neglected the cities sewer system for decades!

      All you believers are just the sheep waiting for the slaughter!

      Hopelessly passing your time in the grassland away

      Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air

      You better watch out

      There may be dogs about

      I've looked over Jordan, and I have seen

      Things are not what they seem

      What do you get for pretending the danger's not real

      Meek and obedient you follow the leader

      Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel

    6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Isn't this a solution looking for a problem?

      From what I've seen in most UK motorway services, the urinals are 100% water free. I'm not sure how often they get "treated" or how long the treatment lasts, but the cleaners just wipe them down and spray them with some chemical. If the little sprinkler/water dispenser things are still there, they are covered or blanked off, they aren't special "high tech" advert displays.

      And anyway, here in the UK, there's plenty of money, seemingly, for putting in flashy new tech stuff, but never any money to repair or maintain them. Few services still have touchless water taps at the washing facilities any more. The expensive sensor operated taps, when they break, get replaced with old style push to operate taps.

  7. wolfetone Silver badge

    2021 - The Year of Android In The Toilet: POSTPONED.

  8. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Targeted ads

    Presumably the urinal has bluetooth and can ask your phone for some form of ID.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Targeted ads

      and maybe a credit card chip sensor to read those, too...

    2. W.S.Gosset

      Re: Targeted ads

      > urinal has bluetooth

      More commonly, blue cake.

    3. anonanonanonanonanon

      Re: Targeted ads

      Just a camera, and it either sells penis enlargement pills or extra large condoms

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Back to the Future

        with a bluetooth and a camera it could be integrated with Grindr... and gents' bogs could go back to the days when they were mostly full of policemen...

        (AC, but would have been the dirty mac, of course!)

    4. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Targeted ads

      I see you're dribbling, would you like some help with that?

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: Targeted ads

        Good job (haha) that it's not running iOS:

        "You're holding it wrong"

      2. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Targeted ads

        Great for selling prostate meds!

  9. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    So they want to help reduce water usage in the name of green gods, but they do it using probably the most inefficient operating system currently being used?

    Probably there is not enough bootcamps to teach how to program microcontrollers...

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Waste

      honestly, the hardware cost difference between an android-capable ARM-based device and a microcontroller board probably favors the ARM-based device. And getting a touch screen to work with a microcontroller (let alone serve up ads) might be cost prohibitive on its own.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Waste

        This monstrosity probably slurps magnitude more energy than a MCU with a screen would have.

  10. wwwd

    piss pour show

  11. Roger Kynaston Silver badge


    What abut crysis?

    On another note, perhaps they should put a iPhone in it and charge you €10 per waz.

    Icon because increased consumption will lead to increased use of borked pissers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DOOM!!??

      A tenner for a waz? Everyone I know calls it a wiz. Well, amongst other names. Indeed, I have one maybe who, appallingly, calls it a piddle...

    2. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C

      Re: DOOM!!??

      "What abut crysis?"

      Or in the Ladies - can it spot cystitis?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DOOM!!??

      Not cost effective. AAPL would get their 30% cut of every waz/wiz you take.

  12. Spudley

    As a parent of young kids, I'm pretty certain this toilet was a character on a recent episode of Danger Mouse.

  13. Efer Brick

    Can't have your "cake" and eat it.

    So they say.

  14. herman Silver badge

    Wee're all stars now, in the bloke show

    It wuz jus takin a wee break then.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good to see they're finally putting Android where it belongs.

  16. Falmari Silver badge

    Reboot required!

    Reboot required, words that should strike fear into the heart of any man standing with tackle out trying to take a piss. The very thought of it sounds painful, be it a soft reboot or heaven forbid a hard reboot. :0

    Now if it had been ios not Android a painful reboot would not have been required, you're just holding it wrong. ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reboot required!


      Have an upvote for making me smile for the first time in many years at usage of the phrase "you're holding it wrong".

  17. fidodogbreath

    Highly targeted by "device" fingerprinting?

    Unidentified users get generic ads for either extra-small condoms or exciting career opportunities in adult entertainment.

    Users whose, um, private pics are backed up to Google Photos get 'relevant' ads based on their Chrome incognito browsing history.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Highly targeted by "device" fingerprinting?

      Just wait till ransomware infects those fucking things: Take a photo of user's small penis* + show it to him + ask for 0.00341 BTC for not to send it to world&dog = £££

      Coming soon to a toilet near you...

      * Yes you have.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    Total Inability To Stream Users Peeing Serve-Up Promotions

    [Icon: caution wet floor!]

  19. heyrick Silver badge

    Given that public toilets are often designed to be indestructible

    I wonder how long a sensitive touch screen would last out in the wild?

  20. Robert Grant

    That agonising wait where you have to watch the full advert before the toilet opens. I WISH I HAD THE SUBSCRIPTION NOW!

  21. Adrian 4

    Marvin would enjoy this

    Brain the size of a planet and here I am, flushing urinals.

  22. martinusher Silver badge

    Millions of lines of code, years of development.....

    .....but to be fair most of that work went on creating a snoopware ecosystem.

    I never cease to be amazed at just how bad most customer facing software is these days. Software development seems to be stringing together library calls as fast as possible to make your product with no consideration for functionality or resilience -- just get it out and wait for the customer to complain (but don't provide any way for them to do this, of course)(at least one that works). Whether its a graphical application on a phone or tablet or customer service phone line our agility in development invariably results in stuff just not working.

  23. chivo243 Silver badge

    Do androids really dream of electric toilets?

    Sorry Deck...

    1. Screwed

      Re: Do androids really dream of electric toilets?

      Can't remember how much details DADOES/BR goes into, but until we reach the level of replicants indistinguishable from humans, I don't think Androids need to know anything about urination.

  24. Richard Pennington 1

    Or even ...

    ... a piss-up in a brewery?

  25. Simon Harris

    O/S rebooting...

    I’d give it 10 minutes if I were you.

  26. Pantagoon

    Add some sensors to track the stream of piss and use the data as a game controller - I don't know, maybe a Fireman Sam game?

    The more you play, the harder it gets...

    1. MayaFey

      Sega Toylet exists, and it's exactly like what you described.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "The more you play, the harder it gets..."

      Yeah, that's me!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Asking for trouble.

    The guy must have some balls to pull out his pecker camera and flash it around in the gents.

  28. Ken G Silver badge

    "Face" Unlock?

    Maybe the devices just didn't recognise the user as authorised, from that angle?

  29. ratcatcher67

    Live streams your stream straight to P0rnhub.

  30. mgs_84

    Reboot to flush system cache. Presumably an I/O error if someone takes a dump in it?

  31. David Hicklin Bronze badge

    Bethselamin coming to Earth ?

    "For years, the fabulously beautiful planet of Bethselamin increased its booming tourist industry without any worries at all. Alas, as is often the case, this was an act of utter stupidity, as it led to a colossal cumulative erosion problem. Of course, what else could one expect with ten billion tourists per annum? Thus today the net balance between the amount you eat and the amount you excrete while on the planet is surgically removed from your body weight when you leave; so every time you go to the lavatory there, it is vitally important to get a receipt. "

    So users are in trouble now - can't get a receipt !:

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