11/14/2008

When I am King: Can-Deed Camera

When I am King...

There will be no automated bathroom devices.

Does anyone else think it's just a little bit creepy to have cameras peering out of the toilet at them? Sure, they're called sensors and they're for detecting when it's time to flush, but do we know that's the case? What if they're really wired up back to some control room, with people monitoring automatic flushers planet-wide, taking video and flushing the toilets remotely?

Meanwhile, the systems aren't very foolproof. Half the time it goes off right before you start, sometimes it decides for no reason whatsoever that it needs to flush in the middle, and sometimes it never flushes when you're done. It's got the predictability of a kid in potty-training. All it needs now is a way to spray water all over the bathroom and use up all the toilet paper and it could pass for a 4 year old.

After the toilet, you head to the sink and are faced with another camera, this one trying to detect when you want water so that it can avoid giving it to you at that exact moment. You wave your hands furiously under the sink, back and forth, up and down, praying to the faucet god, until you find the small sweet-spot where it can see your hands. This place is usually nowhere near the spot where the water comes out, so you shuffle your hands back and forth between the detection spot and the place where your hands actually get wet until your hands are mildly damp, mostly from sweat.

Then you move onto the soap dispenser, and another sensor, where you play the hand-shuffle game again until it finally squirts a load onto the counter.

When you're finally done attempting to wash your hands, you'll need a towel to wipe off the soap that you couldn't get the water to rinse. The dispenser is also camera controlled and you play the hand-jive again. But this time, they're more clever. They know that if you wave your hands wildly in the air for long enough, you will end up drying them yourself. The automated towel dispenser is just a means of saving money on paper towels by making you air-dry your own hands. Occasionally, the machine does push out a towel at you, just to keep you in the game. This towel is roughly the size of a movie ticket, and attempts to pull out a longer sheet from the machine are rewarded by ripping the result into merely a ticket stub size.

Between the voyeuristic flushing cameras, the machines that never actually operate when you need them, and the effort we go through to make all of them function enough for us to get out of that room, it's a wonder we installed them at all. What was wrong with that old system where we actually used our own energy to operate the machines? In fact, it takes far less effort to operate the manual versions than it does to jump around in some kind of bathroom rain dance waiting for the sensor-controlled machines.

When I am King, we will return to simpler devices. No sensors, no automatic dispensers, and no cardio workout every time we visit the bathroom. Instead, we'll return to a simpler time of unflushed toilets, faucets left running, and paper-strewn bathroom floors.

Many other ideas for the kingdom are still being developed, but this one's in the can.
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