Mobile app Pooductive sounds like a silly gimmick: a smartphone app for messaging and playing games with strangers while sitting on the toilet.
However, the app has a more serious aim: raising awareness of the 2.4 billion people in the world who do not have access to improved sanitation and clean water.
Initially released in August, Pooductive – available for Android and iPhone – is being relaunched complete with a partnership with UN-Water, the United Nations body covering fresh-water and sanitation issues.
The relaunch has been timed for 19 November, World Toilet Day, a wider campaign to draw attention to the challenges of lack of access to safe toilets and clean drinking water in many countries.
The app works by connecting strangers for one-to-one or group chats, or to play simple games like noughts and crosses against one another. More than 70,000 people had signed up to use it by early September.
“It’s a community, made up of people who are all in the same position as you,” explains its app store listing. “And that is the exact reason why it is so much better and more entertaining then simply reading the back of a shampoo bottle or just playing any other odd game.”
Pooductive shouldn’t be straining for an audience: as far back as 2011, UK communications regulator Ofcom’s research was revealing that 22% of adult and 47% of teenage smartphone owners admitted using their devices in the bathroom or toilet.
While the new app is entertaining, it may struggle to attract loo-seat users away from established social networks like Facebook and Twitter, or mobile games like Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans.
On the plus side, with World Toilet Day’s goals including raising awareness of hygiene issues, anyone using Pooductive will have no excuse for not washing their hands after each app session.
This article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Thursday 19th November 2015 12.11 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010