Beijing Takes on Toilet Paper Thieves With Facial Recognition Technology

As bizarre as it may sound, there is a real problem in Beijing at the moment with people stealing toilet paper from public facilities to use at home. Many tourists have been caught short in the city center as they go to spend a penny only to discover there’s no toilet paper anywhere to be seen.


Apparently, it’s been a rising problem for quite some time now, but the authorities have had enough and are now taking action.  To tackle the issue, there are now high-tech machines set up around the city that will scan anyone’s face using a built-in camera.  When the computer is certain that the person in front of it now isn’t the same one as a moment ago, it will dispense a strip of toilet paper around two feet long.  If however, you happen to need more than this, you need to wait a painstaking nine minutes before you can get a top up.

China Review Studio


How the toilet paper thieves will cope with this new system remains to be seen.  Will it be enough to deter them or will they start wearing masks to try and trick the technology?  The company behind the machine has said the design came about from several engineers brainstorming over various options for the design.  This included fingerprinting, infrared, and facial recognition, but finally settled on the latter as “it’s the most hygienic way.”

Even though many public restrooms in China have single sheet dispensers to try and combat the thieving, some have just stopped providing it all together.  The authorities are suggesting the crime’s being carried out by locals rather than tourists and is hopeful this new system will start to make things better for everyone.



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