More Advertising in Your Face: Public Restroom Mirrors Turned Into Digital Ads

A public space without advertising is apparently a terrible thing to waste, or so it would seem from today’s announcement by Clear Channel that public restroom mirrors at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport will be turned into digital displays for various commercial products.

The mirrors, developed by a company called Mirrus, display full-sized ads that automatically shrink the ad to a corner whenever patrons approach to wash their hands, comb their hair, or just pause to admire their own visages.  Those who (shudder) don’t wash their hands after using the facilities will carry the added stigma of not knowing the latest products for sale.

The mirrors are capable of displaying both high definition still and video images, and will contain sensors that measure the number of people who stop to look at the ads and how long they stare in awe at whatever is being hawked to the airline passenger.   These have already been installed in restrooms at several sports arenas, and if the above YouTube video is any indication, people are not paying much attention.

Clear Channel won’t be bringing these marvels to LAX because the contract for airport advertising belongs to a competitor, JCDecaux.  However, the France-based outdoor advertising giant already has something called “Magic Mirror” that it has installed in street furniture in several cities.  From a distance this technological wonder acts like a mirror, but when approached turns into an ad.  Can LAX restrooms be far behind?

Combined with other existing sanitary facility innovations like video screens above urinals, stall door billboards, and even advertising devices within the urinal itself (see right),  a place some might see as a momentary respite from the hurly-burly of travel becomes a palace of hucksterism.  Of course, there’s still the toilet….

Dennis Hathaway

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