Beijing deploys facial recognition to foil toilet paper thieves

Talk of facial recognition tends to settle around either concerns about privacy or the security systems used at events to spot potential terrorists. China, though, has deployed the technology in Beijing for a different reason: to catch toilet paper thieves. The thieves are (were?) stealing toilet paper from public toilets, something made much harder thanks to modern dispensers with facial recognition abilities.

Toilet paper thieves don't just cost cities money; the public in general suffers when they go to use said toilets, only to find it lacking in paper. The solution, perhaps, are these dispensers that require visitors to look into a camera before toilet paper is dispensed. It records their face, then provides exactly 2ft of toilet paper before cutting off the supply for that bathroom visit.

Those who need more than 2ft will have to get creative or wait nine minutes until the machine releases the hold, allowing another 2ft to be dispensed. As expected, some people are criticizing the relatively small amount of toilet paper dispensed, saying it isn't enough to meet typical needs.

Overall, the experiment has cost Beijing the equivalent of about $720 USD per toilet paper dispenser. Concerns about privacy don't seem to be a big issue among bathroom-goers — but many are criticizing the expense, saying it'll take a long time to offset the savings that come from lower toilet paper usage.

SOURCE: New York Times