Chinese authorities are adding facial recognition technology to toilet paper dispensers to deter people from stealing entire rolls, according to Vocativ.
“The high-tech dispensers work by scanning the face of visitors upon first entering the restroom,” reported Vocativ on Monday. “Once the person stands in front of the computer for three seconds, it’ll dispense a two-feet long sheet of paper.”
“Visitors will have to be resourceful with the amount they get because the machine won’t give toilet paper twice to the same person for nine minutes,” they explained, adding that “The facial recognition dispenser is currently installed in the restrooms at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven Park, which is one of the city’s busiest tourist sites.”
Customer service worker He Zhiqiang blamed “greedy” toilet-users for the new restrictive technology.
“The people who steal toilet paper are greedy. Toilet paper is a public resource,” Zhiqiang claimed. “We need to prevent waste.”
63-year-old Qin Gang, however, blamed the frequent toilet paper theft on “China’s history of crippling poverty” that “had left some people eager to exploit public goods,” according to The New York Times.
“It’s a very bad habit,” said Gang. “Maybe we can use technology to change how people think.”
In their article, The New York Times reported that not everyone was happy with the situation, claiming “Some people, frustrated by the new technology, banged their fists against the machines, which park employees said cost about $720 each.”
Most complaints revolved around the size of the allocated paper per person, with many claiming it was too short.
However, despite complaints, a lot of thought was reportedly put into the design of the device.
“We brainstormed many options: fingerprints, infrared and facial recognition,” said Marketing Director Lei Zhenshan, who helped design the facial recognition dispenser. “We went with facial recognition, because it’s the most hygienic way.’’
The dispensers are currently reported to be on trial, testing public reaction before they are released nationwide.