>Bathroom Etiquette and Enterprise Architecture

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Every facet of our lives can be enhanced with automation and technology.

The Wall Street Journal, 15 February 2008 reports “Restroom Décor: Germy Doorknobs Inspire Inventors.”

Many people are wary of germs and their disease spewing effects, and no place more so than in public bathrooms (germs “can survive on surfaces for hours or days”).

“A few years ago, after using a filthy gas-station bathroom strewn with soggy toilet paper, Mathew Fulkerson dried his hands under a wall-mounted blower. Then he realized he was trapped: How to leave without touching the door handle?”

The user requirement is clear here; the technology solutions creative (although some are simply using the “pinky pull”, foot pull, or grasping the handle with a paper towel or toilet paper):

  • L-shaped handles—the SantiGrasp “can be pulled with the forearm or wrist” for $124.
  • Sensors—the Sanidoor opens with the wave of a hand at a cost of $1000 installed.
  • Sprays—the HYSO (hygienic Solutions) is a “canister installed above the door handle that sprays it with disinfectant every few minutes…the solution dries instantly.”
  • Ultraviolet lights—“Sanihandles, a door connected to a pair of ultraviolet lamps that kills germs.”
  • Doors that open out—these can be pushed with the shoulder or butt; “last year Massachusetts state Rep. James Vallee introduced a bill on behalf of a constituent that would require all public-bathroom doors to open outward.”

Is there really a need for these elaborate bathroom solutions?

“In an August 2007 study, study sponsored by the Soap and Detergent Association and the American Society for Microbiology, 34% of males observed in public bathrooms across the country didn’t wash their hands; 12% of females didn’t wash up.”

Are hygienic EA solutions user-centric?

They sure are. “Hygiene is a big seller. There are now antimicrobial bedsheets and bacteria-killing carpets. Last year, American Standard introduced a toilet with an antimicrobial coating that suppose to last indefinitely. At Busch’s a supermarket chain in Michigan [and at many others like Trader Joe’s], stores have disinfecting wipes near the shopping carts that people push around.”

William Schaffner, vice president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases says that “It’s good to be clean, but one can become obsessive” He says that he doesn’t avoid touching doorknobs, but I for one don’t believe him.

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