Prior to the 1980s, all restroom fixtures required manual operation — an aspect that we have since learned coincides with a high exposure to germs and bacteria. In fact, manual faucet and toilet handles harbor anywhere between 107 to 17,976 germs per 10 square centimeters.
But more than 40 years later, touch-free products are now the norm in commercial restrooms, and since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the public has greater awareness regarding the importance of hand hygiene.
Gainbridge Fieldhouse took this forward-thinking concept a step further in its recent restroom renovation. As the home to both the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, the renowned venue wanted to ensure that it welcomed guests back to a more hygienic and safer space as the arena returned to full capacity.
The result: Sloan’s Touch-free Restroom of the Future pilot initiative, an entirely hands-free experience in both the men’s and women’s restrooms that includes a sensor-activated entry door, flood detection sensors, self-guided faucets, next-generation hand dryers and more.
Let’s take a look at how Gainbridge Fieldhouse is giving guests of the arena’s Caresource Courtside Club an exciting peak into the future.
ENTERING WITH EASE
From the time guests walk through the front door to the time they exit, the Courtside Club restrooms are an entirely touch-free experience.
Sloan’s engineers developed a custom user interface where guests only need to hold their hand in front of the sensor-activated door for it to open. The technology is also conducive to those — who either don’t realize the technology exists or are simply in a hurry — that opt to push the door open themselves. Regardless of how the door is opened, it closes automatically.
But before visitors even decide to enter the restroom, Sloan’s pilot program has implemented a way to determine restroom capacity. In the era of social distancing — and personal space in general — it’s important for people to have a sense of how crowded a restroom is before entering.
Sloan’s new technology provides a barometer as to how crowded the restroom is. If it’s crowded, indicated by a red light, fans have the opportunity to either wait, visit another restroom or come back later. On the contrary, a green light is an indicator that the restroom is wide open and can be accessed without any lines inside.
This is all made possible through sensors throughout the restroom. Sloan sensor-operated products across the restroom — in water closets, urinals, faucets, soap dispensers and hand dryers — are able to track if anyone is within a functional distance. For example, if a guest is near a water closet, sensors register that data as part of the overall restroom’s current capacity. The restroom technology also provides Gainbridge facility management with capacity reports to help them understand and react to higher traffic patterns.
Once inside the restroom, basketball fans are greeted with a wide range of touch-free flush valves, faucets, soap dispensers and hand dryers.
Up until now, most automated flush valves come along with a manual override switch that people can touch when they want to initiate a flush. But Gainbridge Fieldhouse’s restroom of the future has a sensor-operated override that works much like the front door where guests can simply hold their hand in front of it to initiate the override flush.
When it comes time to wash and dry your hands, visitors have access to Sloan’s AER-DEC integrated sink systems that combine a faucet, soap dispenser and hand dryer all in one sink basin to work together as one touch-free, highly efficient system.
In terms of handwashing, guests are able to utilize Sloan’s BASYS Guided Handwashing Faucets to follow a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-approved handwash. Thanks to an LCD screen on the faucet, the intelligent faucet guides guests through a 30-second handwash with self-guided instructions through five steps: Wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry.
Sloan’s Touch-free Restroom of the Future initiative is now being adopted by other commercial venues across the country. Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona, the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs, is implementing the futuristic innovation to provide a completely touch-free restroom environment that is helping make the restroom the most hygiene-friendly space within the entire venue.