Tag: inventions

  • One More Inane Blog Post on the Intertubes, This One About Bathroom Paper Towel Dispensors

    I got to bed late last night, so today’s post is lame and rambling, just like always.

    Scott Adams

    The restrooms at work have those motion activated paper towel dispensers. You know the type: wave your dripping hand in front of the sensor, it dispenses a length of paper towel. Want more paper? You have to tear off the sheet before it will give you more.

    My first reaction: I wish I’d invented these. They’re everywhere. Somebody’s making money.

    My next reaction: this was a solution in search of a problem but didn’t find it. Motion activation in the restroom must be a great idea, right? After all, who wants to touch levers in the bathroom after someone else who was doing you know what? And motion sensors for most of the stuff in the restroom makes sense. You wouldn’t want them activating at random times. That could waste water or soap. Worse, they probably wouldn’t activate until long after they should. (Reminds me of the April fool’s announcement that the automatic toilets would flush after every other use to save water, but I digress…)

    The concern about waste doesn’t apply to paper towel dispensers. If the paper is dispensed before it’s needed, it just hangs there waiting. It doesn’t go down the drain. It doesn’t somehow prematurely age. And as a wonderful side effect, it’s ready when you are.

    So why not design the paper towel dispenser to always have a length of paper ready to tear off? When paper’s torn off, it would dispense another length. No hand waving necessary.

    Requiring tear sensors wouldn’t add cost; the motion activated dispensers already have them. If you’re concerned that someone will take (and waste) an additional length of paper merely because it was so readily offered, have the dispenser delay for a few seconds before dispensing another length.

    My work here is done. Time to go home (or find something else to rant about).



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