In the fall of 2017, the world is talking about facial recognition features in relation to the new iPhone that will soon be launched. Well, maybe not the whole world, because the Chinese customers are already accustomed to facial recognition technology of all kinds of things. They don’t think this is such a novelty. Technology companies such as Tencent, Alibaba, and Baidu, as well as other AI companies in China, have already introduced biometric technologies to consumers. Customers in many retail and food outlets e.g. KFC are able to make their payments with a ‘smile’.
A bit more obscure and a bit older is the fight against toilet paper thieves in China. This past April, more than 1,500 rolls of toilet paper were stolen in just one week in a public park in Chengdu. This is a similar issue that the city of Beijing was facing at the Temple of Heaven public park earlier in the year. In order to deter the thieves, they installed high-tech toilet paper dispensers equipped with facial recognition software.
The high-definition cameras will trigger a mechanism to release two feet of toilet paper after being stared at for a few moments. The process cannot immediately be repeated by the same toilet visitor. If in need of more paper, one has to wait at least nine minutes before the next batch of paper is released.
The facial recognition toilet paper dispenser that costs about USD 750 are considered overkill by the critics. They propose that people should bring their own toilet paper, the city should install bidet seats or hygiene sprays. Other cities like Qingdao or Shanghai even opted not to provide paper anymore.This might not be the end of the toilet paper thieves’ story as news came in that Chinese tourists are also raiding the public toilets in Japan.