AI Has Found A New Use in China: Saving Toilet Paper...

Facial recognition has been used for a wide range of hi-tech applications in China - from airport security clearance to crime prevention. Now it is being used to solve a more down-to-earth problem.

On Shamian Island, a historical tourist attraction in Guangzhou, facial recognition for toilet paper dispensing has been introduced in some cubicles, according to a report in the Guangzhou-based Information Times. Users can remove 90cm of toilet paper after their face is recognized.

If the system detects the same face twice within 10 minutes, no further paper will be dispensed.

Hi-tech toilet paper dispensing is the latest example of China's efforts to extend artificial intelligence (AI) into almost every aspect of daily life, including smart rubbish bins that sort recyclable material and AI-powered traffic lights.

Facial recognition for toilet paper dispensing first appeared in 2017 in a public restroom at the Temple of Heaven Park in Beijing and was introduced in Shamian in June this year.

Authorities in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen are working on making public toilets smarter. More than 700 cities in China have proposed or are in the process of building smart toilet infrastructure, according to a report by the Qianzhan Industry Research Institute earlier this year.

In Shanghai, the city government has built around 150 smart public toilets that employ infrared lights and ultrasound sensors to detect how long a person has been sitting. 

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In Beijing, facial recognition has found its way into trash sorting to preventing incorrect dumping of waste. In the southern tech hub of Shenzhen, jaywalkers are named-and-shamed by pilot facial recognition schemes.

Source: SCMP

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