China Thwarting Toilet Paper Thieves With Facial Recognition Technology

The government is trying out automated dispensers at a park hard hit by toilet paper theft.

Don’t call it a crackdown — officials in China have had it with people taking too much toilet paper from public restrooms. How serious have things gotten? Serious enough to where the government is starting to use facial recognition technology to solve the problem.

The solution is ingenious. Faced with the problem of people stealing sheets or entire rolls of toilet paper from public restrooms, officials have devised a way to simply limit the amount of toilet paper that can be taken at once. To get toilet paper, people will need to go up to an automated dispenser, which will scan their face and dole out a two-foot long sheet of toilet paper. It’s up to the individual to ration properly from there, because there’s no going back for seconds. If the dispenser scans the same person’s face twice within a nine minute span, it won’t release any more toilet paper (well, OK, some people could probably get seconds).

Officials are trying out six of the dispensers at the Temple of Heaven Park in Beijing. For the time being, they’ll have staff on hand to explain how the new machines work and why they’re there (and, presumably, to watch for toilet paper thieves, too).

Seems pretty solid. If the new dispensers become widespread, toilet paper thieves can still try to ply their trade, but getting two feet of roll per nine minutes seems like a pretty bad way to spend time. By the time they’ve accumulated a respectable amount, they’ll probably be needing to use a good portion of it.

Via The New York Times

Header image: Beijing Evening News and The Beijing News