IoTP: The Internet of Toilet Paper

Our first impression of this IoT toilet paper roll was that somebody was pulling our leg. Watching the infomercial-esque video below is alternately hilarious and horrifying, but it leaves you with the unmistakable feeling that this is all a joke, and a pretty good one at that.  Right up until you get to the big Kimberly-Clark logo at the end, that is, and you realize that the international paper concern must be looking at this seriously.

When you read [zvizvi]’s Instructables post, you find out that this project is indeed a legitimate attempt to meld an Amazon Dash button with your toilet paper dispenser. For his proof-of-concept build, [zvizvi] started with a gag “talking TP” roll off eBay, designed to play back a voice clip when the paper is used. It had all the right guts, and being just the size for a Wemos Mini and an accelerometer for motion detection was a bonus. The smart spindle can tally the amount of paper used, so you’ll never be caught without a square to spare. And of course, critical TP usage parameters are uploaded to a cloud server, so that more toilet paper can be rushed to your door when you’re getting low.

The whole idea, including justification based on monitoring TP use as a proxy for bowel health, seems ridiculous, but we suspect there may be some brilliance here. Joke if you will, but in the end it’s probably better than an Internet of Farts.

 

25 thoughts on “IoTP: The Internet of Toilet Paper

  1. Very basic but extremely important in a corporate environment:

    TP holder that reports a low/out-of-TP condition to lazy facilities management that doesn’t want to bother sending out staff to check TP status on a regular basis automatically.

    Without such functionality, you wind up with stalls that are already completely out of TP not long after lunchtime if your facilities staff is lazy. I have learned this fact the hard way…

    1. By far the best approach with public toilets is the kind of holders that can hold multiple rolls. When one is finished, the next one drops in. Balance the usage with how many spare rolls you have and the effort is minimum, combined with close to zero chance for somebody to run out of.

      1. To stop mischief, add a rotation counter and a brake to only allow a certain amount to be pulled out in a given time period.
        Add an ESP to alert when rolls are used. Solar panel on the top to get power from stall lighting.

  2. I’m pretty sure this is part of a “demo reel” for that ad agency. It might have been part of a pitch to Kimberly-Clark or somebody else to show their versatility/creativity.

  3. This is no worse than the egg carton you put in your refrigerator to be notified which egg was the oldest so that you could use it first. And that product was on sale in stores a couple of years ago.

  4. Given that a roll of paper lasts about the same time, about half of that time is the time to check that one roll is in a standby location. This has to be divided up for multiple stalls. Does not apply in highly variable situations. Wrapped or unused toilet rolls have legs. If anything needs IoT it is the standby roll location monitoring.

    We have gone thru 2 downsizings in width lately! It just gets made up in length.

  5. Just FYI, I built a toilet roll IOT system about a year ago using ESP8266 modules with APDS9960 proximity detectors, powered by two AAA batteries. The modules attached to the rear of the roll holder and monitored the distance to the paper on the roll. They could tell how much paper was on the roll and when the roll was removed or replaced. The modules communicated to a Pi based stock management system using MQTT. The stock management system used Node-Red and could automatically reorder rolls. The system notified your smartphone when a roll needed replacement and when a roll was replaced etc. It was mainly just for fun but it was intended to demonstrate an IOT purchasing system which, unlike the Amazon Dash, would do comparison shopping and get you the best deal. Devices like this are mainly useful for commercial buildings where,with other sensors, they can avoid the need for constant restroom inspections. Foe example, a RFID reader could be installed so that employees could tap their ID cards it to request a restroom cleanup. If you don’t mind a false alerts, you could just use an IOT button for alerting.

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