China has integrated facial recognition in the toilets across the country. Citizens now need WeChat or face scans to get the toilet papers.

People will stand in the yellow recognition spot and will bring their face near the face identification machine.  Then after about three seconds, 90 centimeters of toilet paper will come out. People will then go in and use the toilet but only for limited time as alarm will buzz if someone occupies it for too long. In toilet, sensors will assess ammonium amount and spray a deodorant if required.

Public bathrooms in China are being changed since the first toilet in Temple of Heaven Park in Beijing used a face scanning machine in 2017. This week, local state media appreciated two bathrooms integrated with face scanners for being “clean and convenient,” and “reducing toilet paper waste.”

According to Xi Jinping, there may be some other reason why tech related to gimmicky toilet has greatly flourished in China.  

In 2015, President of China announced the “Toilet Revolution.” The program wished to refine notoriously stinking and badly equipped public bathrooms. Local officers are also appreciating and embracing the Toilet Revolution in addition to state media and residents.

“The Toilet Revolution has top-level endorsement from Xi Jinping so it’s something that lower-level cadres recognize as a way to distinguish themselves and to get noticed by higher-ups in the government system,” a research associate at MacroPolo and an in-house think tank at the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago, Neil Thomas, claimed.

Many technology integrations in public bathrooms are quite beneficial, including the displays that tell if the toilet is being used, and some of them even have phone battery chargers and free WiFi.

More toilet projects even propose the application of fingerprint recognition technology. The local government of historical Fayuansi hutong area in Beijing showed a Sponge Studio design which made public toilets at an angle to prohibit unruly users from using the bathroom based on their fingerprint. The plan also wishes to put an iPad next to toilet seat for public use.

It is not only the government that is urging to advance the bathrooms; market forces are also playing a part. According to MarcoPolo’s Thomas, market forces are looking for chances to release their apps and earn profit at a broad scale by working with tech makers and toilet manufacturers.

China has deployed another high-tech measure to save the toilet paper. WeChat, a famous social network in China, is required to get the toilet paper. WeChat mini app Yunzhi will scan a QR code for such purpose.  

Few of these lavish high-tech public toilets are already facing criticism; people are seeing it as a waste of money. Nonetheless, regardless of media focus on strange toilet models and advance tech apps, major part of this effort is merely making toilets more accessible and better.

“Most of the activities happening in the Toilet Revolution are quite ordinary,” Thomas claimed.