China's facial-recognition enabled public toilet earns plaudits
13 April 2018 14:31 GMT

A city in China has been praised for its use of facial recognition equipment in its public toilet.

The biometric tech was installed as part of a nationwide campaign to improve the quality of public conveniences, dubbed the “toilet revolution” in Chinese media.

Facial recognition equipment had been installed at a public toilet at a sports centre in Changsha in Hunan province, the news website Rednet.cn reported.

Each person scanning their face received 40cm of toilet paper from a dispenser, the report said.

The aim is to stop each user taking too much - and crack down on theft of paper. 

Sensors in toilet cubicles will also issue an alert an attendant if somebody has been inside for more than 10 minutes, according to the report.

“When the screen shows one is occupied for more than 10 minutes, we will go and check [if anything is wrong,” cleaner Liu Zhengde said. There is also a button in each toilet in case the user has an emergency, Liu was quoted as saying. 

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The toilets, which have received more than 20,000 people since the facilities opened in January, also provides free Wi-fi and mobile phone chargers. A screen on the wall shows the temperature, humidity and total volumes of water and electricity consumed in the building and how long each cubicle has been occupied.

A deputy head at the district’s environment and sanitation bureau said: “Through the toilet revolution we want to change residents’ concept [about public conveniences] and improve living conditions.” 

About 30 public toilets in a district of Chongqing had also been fitted with toilet paper dispensers that provided 80cm of paper when a user scanned a code on the machine with their mobile phone, the Chongqing Times reported on Thursday. 

Most of China’s public toilets did not provide paper, in part because of theft, the report said.

The district government is expanding the technology to 150 toilets. Deodorising devices are also to be fitted in toilet cubicles, according to the report.