Stop, Toilet Paper Thief!

Facial recognition technology is helping catch toilet paper thieves in China.


Toilet paper is serious business in China. So much so that one city park is fighting back against a rash of toilet paper bandits with a high-tech dispenser that uses facial recognition software to keep visitors honest.

While most public restrooms in China don’t provide toilet paper, the Temple of Heaven Park in Beijing has done so for the past 10 years, yet it found its supplies rapidly depleted, according to an article appearing in the New York Times. After brainstorming a way to curb excessive usage, the park teamed up with a company that created a dispensing device employing facial recognition software to try to get the problem in check.

Now, bathroom visitors have to stare into a computer mounted on the wall for three seconds before the specially-designed dispenser spits out a sheet of toilet paper—precisely two feet in length, no more, no less. And get this, the machine is programmed not to dispense a second helping to the same person (again, thank you facial recognition software) for a full nine minutes after the first paper dispatch. UGH!

Apparently, many visitors were pleased with the high-tech dispenser, lauding its ability to help prevent waste and discourage toilet paper thievery. Others gripped about the stingy-ness of what was dispensed, not to mention the intrusion.


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