A “transparency toilet” was recently rolled out in the Japanese city of Oita. When in use, the transparent window goes opaque. However, according to reports, the toilet can inadvertently expose those inside for all to see.
As soon as someone steps inside the public toilet, a sensor causes the window to go opaque, creating privacy. In Japan, this style of restroom has been dubbed “smoke toilet” (スモークトイレ or sumooku toire).
Courtesy of ANN News, you can see it in action:
No, it’s not necessary to jump into the restroom. Although, I do recommend it. For all restrooms, even.
According to Oita Press, the opaque window can accidentally go back to being transparent. The reason for this is an unforeseen issue with the sensor: if there is no movement in the toilet for 35 seconds, then the sensor thinks the toilet is empty and the window privacy shade disappears.
The toilet was introduced earlier this year, and Oita Press mentions there has been at least one case in which the privacy screen vanished.
Online in Japan, people seem amused by this with one 2ch forum user writing, “Surely this is on purpose.” Another wondered why the toilet doesn’t ditch the key and go opaque when the door is locked.
The organisation for the shopping arcade where this toilet was placed put warning stickers at the toilet’s entrance and inside the toilet that the window will go transparent if there’s no movement.
It is possible to tweak the sensor, but the organisation is keeping it at 35 seconds. The concern is that someone might fall inside the toilet and need help. “Isn’t this stupid?” writes yet another 2ch user. “Changing 35 seconds to 50 seconds or a minute isn’t that huge of a difference.”
This isn’t the first transparent public toilet with an opaque smoke screen (I believe Europe claims that honour?), but it’s the first of its kind in Japan. And, I believe, the first to accidentally expose people inside. Um, congrats on that?
トイレの中でじっとしてると…”丸見え”に [Oita Press]