coming soon -- games you play with your urine

<img src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/business/2012/11/captive-media.jpg" alt="" title="captive media" width="660" height="493" class="size-full wp-image-67283" />

Captive Media’s urinal entertainment system shows ads on screens above each urinal and starts playing games when you pee Image: Captive Media


Finally, after decades spent wandering through the world of print, television, and the web, advertising has come home to its spiritual birthplace – the public restroom. Sure, there have been ad campaigns in the loo before, but Sharpie-scrawled messages on walls and band stickers on mirrors don’t count. What startup Captive Media has created takes the whole notion of making a splash to a different level. Higher or lower? It remains to be seen.

What the London-based company has built is a digital advertising display meets game console we’re calling the urinal entertainment system. Think of it as a Xbox, but with more urine and no game controllers. That’s right, it’s pee-controlled gaming, and the company just raised $700,000 from U.K. investors to keep its business flowing (sorry for that).

The urinal entertainment system, or UES if you will, is mounted at eye level right above the urinal and uses an LCD screen that merrily loops videos and advertisements until you walk up to the porcelain. Once you pause in front of the fixture long enough to unzip, it’s game on. Instead of using your hands on a touchscreen to play and pee at the same time (think of how difficult and unsanitary that would be), infrared sensors mounted below the screen shoot down into the urinal to detect the direction of your stream and feed that data back into the system to control the game. When your stream interferes with one of the infrared beams, the sensors can tell in which direction you’re peeing. There are even decals inside the urinal to help you aim (something that can’t be bad to have in even non-gaming visits to the bathroom).

There are five games that pop up at random on the UES, including On the Piste, where you speed down a ski run trying to hit penguins; Clever Dick, a trivia game which uses the direction of your stream to pick an answer, and Artsplash, a coloring game which I can only imagine is akin to drawing in the snow. The Captive Media website claims that the games make restrooms cleaner because “men are more accurate when they concentrate.” But if you’re concentrating on a screen while trying to improve your score, it seems just as likely you’ll wind up ruining your shoes.

Check out the video for an overview on how it works. Don’t worry, it’s SFW.

Co-founder Gordon MacSween says the response has been “beyond his wildest expectations.” During the first night of live testing in 2011 in a Cambridge, U.K., cocktail bar, the UES was such a hit with a group of American servicemen that they spent much of the night in the bathroom trying to beat each other’s high scores, and coaxing others in the bar to head to the restroom to try it. That can’t have been weird at all.

Launched about a year ago at a London club, Captive Media has installed its urinal entertainment systems in 18 bars, hotels, corporate offices, and even a few private residences across the U.K., France, Spain, and Italy. The company’s next mark to hit is American bathroom users, who, while perhaps not in the same league as British pub goers by urine volume, still have to go on a regular basis. Expect the British bathroom invasion next year.

As you might imagine by the sophomoric tone of the whole idea, the games are a hit with guys. But according to MacSween, restaurant and bar owners are just as keen on the idea and are using the UES to advertise drink specials and other promotions on the screens. Cambridge bar Ta Bouche advertised a special on a house-created shot, and the bar reaped a 22 percent boost in sales of the cocktail, the owner says. But not every venue is in it for the advertising, some just want a gimmick to get customers to come back. “Lainston House (a five-star U.K. wedding venue) have the system purely for the customer experience, and because they know people will remember their visit and talk about it,” says MacSween.

And if you’re thinking guys get to have all the fun, Captive Media hasn’t forgotten about the ladies. But instead of toilet games (which would be incredibly awkward to play), there’s just wall-mounted screens to keep gals entertained while waiting in line. Though, considering how well guys have taken to Captive Media’s urinal games, it seems like lines are going to be a bigger issue for the men’s rooms from now on.

@mittromney -- Automobile Magazine names @teslamotors Model S 'Car of the Year' - Nov. 1, 2012

Automobile Magazine cited the Model S's powerful performance as well as its intriguing host of technologies in awarding the model "Car of the Year."

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Automobile Magazine has named the Tesla Model S its "Car of the Year," citing the car's design and impressive speed.

"It's the performance that won us over," Automobile Editor-in-Chief Jean Jennings said in the magazine's January 2013 issue. "The crazy speed builds silently and then pulls back the edges of your face. It had all of us endangering our licenses."

The Model S is an all-electric luxury sedan that can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 4.3 seconds. That's fast for any car, but especially one with the size and roominess of the Model S. In a test arranged by the magazine, the Model S even beat a 560 horsepower BMW M5 sedan in a race to which could hit 100 miles an hour first.

Besides being electric, the Model S doesn't have a key or a "start" button: Just sitting in the car with the key in your pocket turns it on. Put your foot on the brake, shift into "drive," and the car is ready to go

Gallery: Inside the Tesla Model S

Instead of dashboard and console buttons, everything from the stereo and air conditioning to the panoramic sunroof is controlled by a huge central touch screen that resembles a massive iPad. That same screen can also be used to check email and surf the Web.

"This was an electric car that felt very much like a real car," Automobile senior editor Joe Lorio said. "It doesn't feel like a science project. It doesn't feel like a second or third car."

When equipped with an optional pair of rear-facing children's seats, the Model S can hold up to seven people. Since there is no engine, both the back and front of the car can be used for cargo.

The Model S ranges from $50,000 for a car that can go 160 miles on a charge to almost $100,000 for a richly equipped model that can go 300 miles. It went into production this summere, and by the beginning of October, Tesla said it had sold about 250 Model S sedans. It expects to sell about 3,200 by end of this year.

Chief Executive Elon Musk has said he expects Tesla Motors (TSLA) to become profitable in November. Tesla has accepted $465 million in Department of Energy loans, which the automaker expects to begin repaying in December.

Tesla's start-up status was one factor that gave Automobile judges pause when making this selection, Lorio said.

"What if we give the car this honor, and a year from now the company disappears in a ball of flakiness?" he said "Are we going to feel foolish?"

In the end, Lorio said, the judges decided the award must be for the car and not necessarily the business, which will stand or fall on its own.

"This car is here now, and we think it's a significant milestone," he said. To top of page

First Published: November 1, 2012: 3:02 PM ET

a good start for @bigfishgames -- Big Fish Casino UK (iOS) review. real money gambling in the UK on ios. let's get those bugs fixed! :)

Big Fish Casino UK (formerly Card Ace: Casino) is an iOS game from Big Fish Games, Inc. It is a particularly noteworthy app at present for being one of the first mobile social games to allow real-money gambling, thanks to Big Fish Games’ partnership with Betable. Due to the differing laws regarding online gambling around the world, however, the game’s real-money gambling incarnation is currently only available from the UK App Store – though a version of Big Fish Casino without the real-money component is available worldwide.

Big Fish Casino offers a variety of casino games for players to challenge — specifically, several slot machines; Word Ace, which is a word-creating variation on poker; Texas Hold’Em Poker; video poker; blackjack; and roulette. At the time of writing, only one of the virtual slot machines offers the facility for real-money play to UK players — all other games use in-game virtual currency.

Opting in to the real-money aspect of the game requires the player to sign up for a Betable account as well as setting up their in-game profile — and signing up for Betable also requires the player to make an initial real-money deposit. Betable offers a variety of bonus packages for new players, effectively doubling their initial deposit in most situations. There is actually no obligation for players to pay for an initial deposit, but the app does not make this particularly clear. Without real money in one’s account, however, it will be impossible to play the real-money machines — the minimum bet for the real-money slot machine is £0.01, and Big Fish Casino’s separate in-game currency chips cannot be exchanged for a real-money stake.

When playing any of the games within Big Fish Casino, there’s a synchronous multiplayer component, even in traditionally “solo” games such as slots or video poker. It’s possible to see what other players are winning and also to chat with them at any time, giving a pleasing sense of “community” to the experience. The game’s profile system also allows players to choose three different images to reflect positive, neutral and negative moods and switch between these at any time, and tapping on another player’s icon in the game offers the facility to add them as a friend, “Like” them, give them chips, give them gifts or report their profile for inappropriate content. It’s also possible to look at the player’s past records in all the different games on offer to see how well they have performed and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Big Fish Casino does a competent enough job of providing some basic casino games (and a few fun variations) for players to enjoy, but that doesn’t mean the app is without its flaws. It supposedly offers Facebook connectivity for profile creation, but when attempting to make use of this the app simply threw a “Big Fish Casino is misconfigured for Facebook” error message and refused to allow me to go any further. The app also does not seem to store all its graphical assets permanently, for some reason — frequently, when switching to a new game, there is a moment or two while the game loads in the graphics for the various buttons and interface elements, giving the game a rather sloppy and amateurish feel at times.

Big Fish Casino is off to a relatively solid start with its real-money gambling component, then, but the whole app needs a little more polish to make it worthy of recommendation without hesitation. Those looking to gamble their real money via their phone would also probably appreciate the option to do so in games other than slots, and with higher stakes, too — but this will likely come with time as Big Fish and Betable examine the uptake for the currently-available £0.01-stake option and determine how much to expand. For now, then, Big Fish Casino UK is one to keep an eye on, but it doesn’t look like the online mobile-social gambling revolution has quite started yet.

Big Fish Casino UK does not currently appear to be ranked on the App Store leaderboards. Check back shortly to follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.

Wait

A tentative step into real-money gaming in the UK, but an app that still needs a bit of spit and polish to be truly worthy of recommendation.

a good start for @bigfishgames -- Big Fish Casino UK (iOS) review. real money gambling in the UK on ios. let's get those bugs fixed! :)

Big Fish Casino UK (formerly Card Ace: Casino) is an iOS game from Big Fish Games, Inc. It is a particularly noteworthy app at present for being one of the first mobile social games to allow real-money gambling, thanks to Big Fish Games’ partnership with Betable. Due to the differing laws regarding online gambling around the world, however, the game’s real-money gambling incarnation is currently only available from the UK App Store – though a version of Big Fish Casino without the real-money component is available worldwide.

Big Fish Casino offers a variety of casino games for players to challenge — specifically, several slot machines; Word Ace, which is a word-creating variation on poker; Texas Hold’Em Poker; video poker; blackjack; and roulette. At the time of writing, only one of the virtual slot machines offers the facility for real-money play to UK players — all other games use in-game virtual currency.

Opting in to the real-money aspect of the game requires the player to sign up for a Betable account as well as setting up their in-game profile — and signing up for Betable also requires the player to make an initial real-money deposit. Betable offers a variety of bonus packages for new players, effectively doubling their initial deposit in most situations. There is actually no obligation for players to pay for an initial deposit, but the app does not make this particularly clear. Without real money in one’s account, however, it will be impossible to play the real-money machines — the minimum bet for the real-money slot machine is £0.01, and Big Fish Casino’s separate in-game currency chips cannot be exchanged for a real-money stake.

When playing any of the games within Big Fish Casino, there’s a synchronous multiplayer component, even in traditionally “solo” games such as slots or video poker. It’s possible to see what other players are winning and also to chat with them at any time, giving a pleasing sense of “community” to the experience. The game’s profile system also allows players to choose three different images to reflect positive, neutral and negative moods and switch between these at any time, and tapping on another player’s icon in the game offers the facility to add them as a friend, “Like” them, give them chips, give them gifts or report their profile for inappropriate content. It’s also possible to look at the player’s past records in all the different games on offer to see how well they have performed and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Big Fish Casino does a competent enough job of providing some basic casino games (and a few fun variations) for players to enjoy, but that doesn’t mean the app is without its flaws. It supposedly offers Facebook connectivity for profile creation, but when attempting to make use of this the app simply threw a “Big Fish Casino is misconfigured for Facebook” error message and refused to allow me to go any further. The app also does not seem to store all its graphical assets permanently, for some reason — frequently, when switching to a new game, there is a moment or two while the game loads in the graphics for the various buttons and interface elements, giving the game a rather sloppy and amateurish feel at times.

Big Fish Casino is off to a relatively solid start with its real-money gambling component, then, but the whole app needs a little more polish to make it worthy of recommendation without hesitation. Those looking to gamble their real money via their phone would also probably appreciate the option to do so in games other than slots, and with higher stakes, too — but this will likely come with time as Big Fish and Betable examine the uptake for the currently-available £0.01-stake option and determine how much to expand. For now, then, Big Fish Casino UK is one to keep an eye on, but it doesn’t look like the online mobile-social gambling revolution has quite started yet.

Big Fish Casino UK does not currently appear to be ranked on the App Store leaderboards. Check back shortly to follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.

Wait

A tentative step into real-money gaming in the UK, but an app that still needs a bit of spit and polish to be truly worthy of recommendation.