Boeing recently gathered its engineers and designers to create an airplane bathroom that won’t turn into a smelly, germ-filled nightmare. If you’ve been on long-haul flights before, you know what we’re talking about. What they came up with is a restroom worthy of being pitted against fancy Japanese toilets, one that cleans itself after every visitor by killing 99.99 percent of germs with far UV light. By killing germs, the method also keeps the stall from smelling like a truck-stop urinal.
Far UV light is only harmful to microbes and is different from the type used in tanning salons. Still, the bathroom only activates its lights if sensors indicate that there’s nobody inside. As soon as you close the door, the lights pulse and zap germs you might leave behind; the toilet cover even automatically pops up to ensure thorough cleaning. It only takes three seconds to finish the whole process.
Since that’s probably not enough for the fastidiously clean, they also made almost every component inside hands-free. Want to lift the toilet cover and seat? Simply wave your hand over their sensors. The faucet, soap dispenser, hand dryer and even trash can cover all have sensors of their own. You still have to touch the door latch with the current concept, but the team’s looking to turn it into a hands-free experience, as well. Plus, they’re planning to add a vacuum vent system that can suck unfortunate accidents on the bathroom floor.
A toilet that cleans itself could help save airlines maintenance costs down the line. Besides, it could convince germaphobes bitten by the travel bug to finally take that trip to the other side of the planet. Then again, according to tests conducted in 2015, the dirtiest surface on a plane isn’t anywhere in the bathroom — it’s actually the tray table.