Reality television didn’t quite work out for Terrell Jones. Invited with a group of D.C.-area inventors to audition for the first season of American Inventor, he did get to meet the judges, but he and the portable urinal he invented, When U Need 2 Go, were ultimately rejected.
Jones, 31, a native of Manor Park who now lives in Bladensburg, took the setback in stride. (Cosmic injustice: This made the show.)
Jones says current iterations of portable urinals, such as the “Little John,” are “basically empty containers, basically soda bottles.” When U Need 2 Go, which resembles a Thermos, packs a vacuum motor and a retractable hose into its top half. ” The suction will allow for a more even flow rate,” Jones says. “It’ll prevent regurgitation of the urine.” He adds: “It’s just like when you go to the dentist’s office.” The hose allows you to station the unit up to 36 inches away.
When U Need 2 Go offers a pair of detachable interfaces Jones says are “modeled on the extension pieces you’d find on a vacuum cleaner.” The female attachment accommodates the shape of women’s genitalia. “The vagina is kind of like a pear shape…a tear drop,” Jones says. “It’s a real sensitive area,” he adds, which is why there is a liner on this attachment.
You can keep track of how full your When U Need 2 Go is by glancing at the transparent strip on the side, and when it’s time to empty it, you can simply remove the liner in the collection chamber, much like on a baby bottle, empty it sanitarily into a toilet, and install a new one.
Jones currently has only a “crude prototype,” which he says has tested well among acquaintances, and he needs to find financing to build out the version of When U Need 2 Go that he has patented. (The prototype lacks a vacuum motor.) To this end, he’s attended numerous trade shows. He says he’s spoken with taxi drivers, the chief urologist of Howard University, and truckers. He’s buttonholed Washington Post Company CEO Donald Graham in an elevator; Graham later sent him an e-mail saying he thought the idea was clever, but so far the company’s flagship newspaper has declined to write about it. He’s gotten in touch with NASCAR, which he says gave him “great feedback.” And he says he’s contacted Virgin Group about Richard Branson‘s SpaceShipTwo commercial spaceflight project. The contact went well, Jones says, though a Virgin rep told him they couldn’t use the product due to budget restrictions.
Jones has four other unpatented inventions in the hopper. He plans to use any money he makes from When U Need to Go to fund their development. “I’m going to be a great inventor that people are gonna write about later,” he says.