Saturday, April 05, 2014

Time to Pee

Too many smart phone apps are solutions looking for a problem. Do I really need a music player than sorts my tunes by album cover? Or a map program that offer me directions with a French accent? Or a contact manager that groups my contacts into meaningless circles (sorry Google Plus!).  All nice to have if you just want something different. But let's be honest, none of these are really advancing the state of the art.

Where are the applications that deal with the really important stuff? Like which toll lane will go the fastest. Like whether my rain coat will be warm enough today or if I'd better off wearing a sweater underneath. Like do I need to stick around at the movies till after the credits end for some outtakes, or can I run to the rest room and beat the crowd. Actually, now you can cross that last one off the list. Because now there's RunPee.

That's right, an app that tells you when to go to the bathroom. More specifically, an app that tells you the best time to go to the bathroom when you're at the movies and not miss anything important. So you no longer have to worry about getting that giant Diet Sprite and enjoying it without reserve. Because if you've got RunPee on and cooking, you will be good to go. Literally.

Select any of the movies in the RunPee database, and you'll get multiple possible options as to when you can break away. Each film has been reviewed to include those spots where you can sneak out and not miss the good stuff. For each break, it provides not only the running time where it will occur, but the cue words that should get you up and moving. It also gives you the length of each, and a short synopsis of the part you'll miss. It even includes a build-in timer that vibrates just before the "peetime," so you'll know to get ready to, well, go.

But it's not just about identifying the boring parts. As the developer explains, "Actually, it's super hard to find peetimes in good, well-edited movies. So sometimes the peetimes are simply spots in the movie that can be easily summed up, so you won't be lost when you get back. For example, in ‘Harry Potter 6,' we have a peetime where you miss Harry getting his Advanced Potions book. It's important to the plot, but honestly easy to miss: he gets the book and realizes someone smart – but unknown – owned it previously. Easy to sum up and now you know what is going on."

It takes a fine tuned sense of judgment to be able to balance the needs of one's bladder against the need for not missing the water-cooler scenes everyone will be talking about. The app acknowledges that challenge: "We know that no one wants to miss the funniest lines or best action or dramatic plot points, so we are careful to avoid those scenes. But sometimes we might make a peetime during an action scene, as long as it's not the best action of the movie." They even give you the tools to make value judgments based on your own particular sensibilities: "We also try to find peetimes over a variety of different types of scenes. That way if you don't care about long chase scenes, we'll have a peetime for you."

As an example, here're the notes for "Non Stop," the hit film with Liam Neeson. "I would recommend using the 1st Peetime. It's plenty long and has a short synopsis. The 2nd Peetime is good, but the synopsis is a bit long. And the 3rd Peetime is short, and the tension is really high, so I'd only suggest using this Peetime in an emergency." And if you go with suggested first option? "38 minutes into movie = 4 minute Peetime. When to go: Bill says to Nancy, ‘In 13 minutes someone else will die. I need you to help me.'" (In deference to those of you who haven't seen the film, I will leave out the synopsis of what happens in those 4 minutes. But trust me: you can miss it.)

Simply brilliant. Right up there with penicillin, post-it notes and Tang. Better living through chemistry, for sure. Now, can we talk about those toll lanes?


Marc Wollin of Bedford always goes to the rest room just before the movie starts. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

No comments: