The satellite technology that helps you go

If you’re shopping in London and desperate to hit the loo, satellite technology may help you pinpoint theToilet1
nearest one, saving you the trouble of asking someone.

First came SatNav, the satellite system that helps guide even the most
hapless drivers home – now the "SatLav" has been unveiled, to guide
shoppers to the nearest toilet. [Link]

SatNav is short for satellite navigation and SatLav for satellite lavatory (SatLoo was probably taken). I wonder what’s next:

SatKid — helps you find your child after you’re done shopping.

SatMan — helps you find the bench on which your man has sat.

SatBag — helps you find the nearest sale on handbags.

SatWinder — helps you find CDs of your favorite Punjabi singer.

It is one of a growing number of services available
to mobile phone users, who can already use their handsets to get
directions or find taxis, plumbers or even recycling centres.

The technology used in SatLav is similar to that in modern GPS systems.
The user simply sends a text message with the word ‘toilet’ to 80097,
and a satellite pinpoints their location.

The satellite picks up the mobile phone’s signal and uses it to find the location of the nearest phone mast.

From
that it establishes the post code in which the user is standing, which
it sends to a database containing all of the toilets registered with
the scheme.

The database then automatically finds
a toilet that matches the postcode and sends a text message back to the
user with the information. The entire process takes just seconds. [Link]

It had better take just seconds. Otherwise you’ll be standing cross-legged for a few minutes, then cursing your cell phone when you see the message: "Nearest toilet is half a mile away. You could have been there already."

Robert Thurner, commercial director of mobile technology company
Incentivated, which developed SatLav and maintains the database of
toilets, said that the latest mobile technology was "making residents’
lives easier". …

SatLav was developed by the council with Incentivated
and is the brainchild of student Gail Knight, who entered the idea into
a council competition.

Miss Knight, 26, said:
"When I am out with friends we are always ducking into McDonalds or
department stores to use their loos but we feel a bit bad about it." [Link]

Almost everyone has sneaked into McDonald’s at one time or another, which is why the fast-food chain is able to say, "Billions and billions served."

Westminster councillor Alan Bradley said: "From today
onwards nobody should get caught short again, and we understand how
important that is, be it for a young mum with children in tow, older
people or friends on a shopping trip or a night out."

It
is hoped that giving people a service to tell them where their nearest
toilet is might also encourage them not to urinate on the street after
a night on the town. [Link]

Yeah, because after they’ve had a night on the town, they’re going to have the good sense to use their cell phones to find the nearest toilet. For such people, it would make more sense to offer another service: SatTree.

Photo by iLoveButter

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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