The use of AI in China may be getting a bit out of hand. We’ve previously reported on the country using facial recognition to make sure citizens sort their garbage properly and having robots act as drug counselors. Now artificial intelligence and facial recognition are making their way into some public restrooms in the form of smart toilets.
If you happen to be using a stall in Guangzhou’s Shamian island, you might want to be careful about how much toilet paper you plan to use. Authorities are using sensors and facial recognition to monitor citizens as they go to the bathroom. Users can only use up to 90 cm of toilet paper before they are cut off.
Also if you happen to be having some stomach issues and need to quickly return to the stall you may be out of luck. If the smart toilet system detects the same face within ten minutes, the person won’t be allowed any more paper.
China Monitoring Toilet Paper Usage Since 2017
Apparently using AI to monitor Chinese bathrooms is nothing new. Facial recognition for toilet paper conservation first appeared in 2017 at a public bathroom at the Temple of Heaven Park in Beijing.
While most are a bit wary of their toilet paper usage being monitored some citizens feel it is necessary.
“I think it’s very necessary because if someone steals toilet paper it will run out very soon. I don’t mind where hi-tech is applied to, whether in space exploration or toilet paper saving, if it benefits people by solving problems,” said one Guangzhou citizen.
China’s Smart Toilets
If the idea of your toilet paper usage being monitored kind of freaks you out, Shanghai also has about 150 smart toilets that can tell how long you are on the bowl. They include a human body sensor that uses infrared rays and ultrasound to detect the person inside and how long they have been sitting there. If you happen to be in the stall for more than 15 minutes, an alert will be sent to municipal workers to go in and check on you.
It’s not all awkwardness, the sensors also monitor the air quality inside the bathroom (insert your own jokes) and there is a water-saving feature that will adjust the levels based on occupancy time. Still, more than a few citizens aren’t really comfortable with having their bathroom time monitored.
“This could be embarrassing for me. Since I was a little kid I’m used to spending up to half an hour in the toilet, this would mean a toilet worker checking on me twice … this makes me nervous,” said one Shanghai resident.