The invention of toilets were a definite plus for civilization, but they also ushered in a whole new reason for men and women to argue. “Who left the seat up?” is a common refrain in many mixed households, but one savvy Boston University (BU) student and a team of engineers may have just brought peace to this particular battle of the sexes. They’ve finally invented a toilet with a self-raising and lowering seat.
The Boston Globe details how BU business student Kevin Tang found inspiration of a sort in the sub-par toilets at his university. Automatic seats, he theorized, would help prevent splashes and other messes. The problem is that while automatic toilets already exist, their batteries and electronics make them prohibitively expensive. Tang got together with a group of engineers from BU and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to find a better way.
In this day and age where every device seems to be “smart” or connected to the internet in some way, their design was refreshingly simple. Their toilet seats are pneumatic, which means “powered by air pressure.” When the seat is raised or lowered, an internal timer gets tripped. After 30 seconds, the pressure is released and the seat gently goes back to its original position.
The design took Tang and his team four years to perfect, but they’re now available through their startup company Cleana. There are two different varieties of toilet: One that keeps the seat up (designed for office buildings and public spaces) and a residential model that keeps the seat down. The home model isn’t yet for sale, but Cleana is off and running with its commercial seats. According to The Boston Globe, they’ve already lined up pre-orders from some supermarkets and universities, including MIT.
Nobody really likes to think about toilet seats, but it has apparently paid off for Cleana. A board member on BU’s School of Hospitality Administration has already put $100,000 in seed money into the venture. Now if they can only invent toilet paper that doesn’t stick to your shoe.