back to article Japanese researchers spin up toilet paper gyroscopes for science

Japanese boffins have measured the spin-speed of toilet rolls to work out who's on the loo. The idea, apparently, is that because a throne is a good place to collect health monitoring data, the researchers wanted a reasonably non-invasive ID technique. One that wouldn't get bogged down in the obvious privacy issues of trying …

  1. Denarius Silver badge

    Oh crap

    another loss of privacy. I'll get my coat, its the one with stained hem at back...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Oh crap

    Will have to start carrying your own roll when out and about.

  3. m0rt Silver badge

    Re: Oh crap

    I wonder if this would be caught under GDPR...privacy impact assessments, anyone? :)

    "This is my toilet roll spin rate - what do have on me? "

  4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: Oh crap

    PHBs and bean counters around the world rejoice at the opportunity to charge back their staff for "excessive" bog roll usage.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. veti Silver badge

    And so...?

    Assuming this can be made into a reliable algorithm that works with more than half a dozen people to choose from... exactly what do they plan to infer from this "health monitoring data"?

    Personally, I'm pretty sure the amount of paper I use varies quite a bit between visits. According, y'know.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: And so...?

    exactly what do they plan to infer from this "health monitoring data"?

    Identify the 3 x 10 sheet-at-a-time wipers that keep clogging up the toilet? As they already have a Bluetooth device there they could also ID the BT signature of their phone and log how much time they spend dumping core (sorry Linux users :) ). I bet Sports Direct would pay for that sort of data.

    Just a few ideas.

  8. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Re: And so...?

    Management everywhere are currently waiting with bated breath for the results of a larger study. Once that's in, they can mandate how much paper you're allowed to use and how often you can use the facilities. And it will all be done in the name of "efficiency" to weed out the malingerers. Oh.. and more profit from the savings on paper and employee time wasted on the porcelain throne.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: And so...?

    Sadly, having an arse like a nearly empty jar of marmite means I can go through quite a bit.

    And not that crappy quilted stuff either. Instant finger-tu-tu with that stuff.

    Never happened with IZAL.

    Now wash your hands!

  10. DougS Silver badge

    This is hilarious

    Never in a million years would I have thought you could identify people this way, but it makes sense. Bravo to these researchers.

    I have no idea what use personally identifying people on the toilet is, but given that this is Japan, maybe they are developing a toilet that will check the 'contents' as you flush to see if you have colon cancer, kidney disease or other conditions that may be detectable via your #1 and #2.

    I guess if it figures out you have something wrong with you, the next time you snag some toilet paper a voice will come out of the toilet "please check with your doctor, you may have colon cancer!" That surprise toilet voice would be good for people suffering from constipation!

  11. VinceH Silver badge

    Re: This is hilarious

    But if they're suffering from constipation, there's nothing going down the pipe for analysis, so they won't get a surprise voice as a result!

  12. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Re: This is hilarious

    Boss: Why aren't you working yet? It's after 11!

    Me: Well, I had a bacon and egg roll when I got in, but I'm still stuck trying to log in

    It's like I stopped maturing at age 9

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: This is hilarious

    Amsterdam (only place I've seen em) has a flat shelf that your poo sits on before you flush so you can actually see if there are issues, blood, worms, god knows what else.

    I suppose some people are to prudish to see what comes out of their nether regions.

  14. jake Silver badge

    If the article hadn't mentioned the nationality of the researchers ...

    ... how many of all y'all would have correctly guessed?

    I'm guessing near 100% ...

  15. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Re: If the article hadn't mentioned the nationality of the researchers ...

    50/50 chance Japanese/German, I'd say.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: If the article hadn't mentioned the nationality of the researchers ...

    Do German toilets still have that little ledge so you can inspect your faeces before flushing?

  17. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

    Re: If the article hadn't mentioned the nationality of the researchers ...

    You still find the lovely ledges[TM]. Increasingly uncommon, though. Have not seen a single one in newly installed toilets for many years.

    Porcelain icon ------------->

  18. Big John Silver badge

    Re: If the article hadn't mentioned the nationality of the researchers ...

    I've seen those Lovely Ledges, most disturbing.

    Also, obligatory Simpsons.

  19. LaeMing

    Does it account for which way the janitorial staff put the roll on (which seems random here)? Will it report me as a pedant for always turning the 'backward' rolls the 'right' way around?

  20. frank ly Silver badge

    No but it will tell you that you're being anal.

  21. Number6

    I was wondering the same thing. I always turn the roll the correct way out, so the paper hangs furthest from the wall.

  22. LaeMing
    Thumb Up


    It's the civilized way to live!

  23. jake Silver badge

    Re: @Number6

    Unless you've got cats. Then it's paper down the back.

  24. MrT


    ... That's a good point - I doubt feline-related variations have been factored into all this.

    1-2 sheets : tiddle

    R(s) sheets, where R is the remaining sheets on the roll, and s is the likelihood that the roll is almost full before the incident (scaled from 1 to 0) : Tiddles

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Cats...

    "[...] where R is the remaining sheets on the roll, [...]"

    It could be an Andrex puppy.

  26. VinceH Silver badge

    Re: Cats...

    When you hear a six or seven year old child calling out "Mum!" from the toilet, you

    (a) know the Andrex puppy has had it away with the loo roll

    (b) and think "Hang on! But I don't have an Andrex puppy. Or kids!"

  27. Black Betty

    Tail goes in back.

    Then folding toward oneself puts the dimples on textured paper to the outside, and who wouldn't prefer dimples on their bum to pimples.

    Practically, dimples also catch and hold more "material".

    Also if the installer is a clutz (not looking in any mirrors), a roll with the tail to the front will snag on protruding screw heads when pulled with any vigour.

  28. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Re: @Number6

    Dogs also. We had one that loved to spin off the whole roll every chance she got.

  29. frank ly Silver badge

    Papering over the crack

    "Then, the system identifies the user with the feature values.”

    followed by:

    "And the authors say it's privacy-protecting, ..."


    Have they made sure it can deal with negative rotation values, for those people who pull too hard and then have to rewind it (or like Lae Ming above)? If not, then the software could have some kind of dump and an overflow problem so things could get wiped.

  30. LaeMing

    Re: Papering over the crack

    Error: Excess Rotation. ... Did you just get a new kitten?

  31. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Re: Papering over the crack

    "You appear to be using a lot of toilet paper. Would you like some help with that?"


  32. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    "In the laboratory environment, someone whose habit was to pull on the roll four times would be correctly identified 92.5 percent of the time."

    But surely, the amount of paper used is a variable? (Maybe not for #1s, but certainly for #2s.)

    Also, there would be a lot of other parameters to be taken into consideration. This week's menu in the cafeteria. Make of the toilet paper, especially when procurement keeps changing it. Office parties. Hayfever season(s). Holidays associated with typical foods. And so on. We're deep inside non-linear territory here.

  33. Christoph Silver badge

    And then some clever bastard adds Picolax to the canteen food (This link is not safe for work)

  34. Black Rat

    Science my arse!

    Izal know what's going on.

    This is about who's stealing the loo roll

  35. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge




  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: プライバシーを守るって

    私たちは愛する人を見知らぬ人ではありません。 あなたはルールを知っていて、私もそれらを知っています。 私が考えているのは完全な約束です。 あなたは他の男からこれを取得しないだろう。

    私は自分の気持ちを伝えたい。 私はあなたに理解させなければなりません。

    あなたをあきらめることは決してありません。私はあなたを失望させません。私は決して逃げず、あなたを捨てません。 私は決してあなたを泣かせません、私はさよならを言うことはありません、私は嘘をつくってあなたを傷つけることは決してありません。

  37. Swarthy Silver badge

    Re: プライバシーを守るって

    Well trolled!

    Since you can't as AC, allow me. --->

  38. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Re: プライバシーを守るって

    Well done, sir. Well done. 善哉!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Privacy really is going to shit these days,

  40. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "Pervasive Smart Living Spaces" PerLS 2017

    So they really are planning to start crawling up my a**se.

    Yet another gadget for the IoT.

    Yet another candidate for the IgNobel Prize.

  41. Snivelling Wretch

    Never mind the health monitoring; if this can correctly attribute the blame to which of my kids uses up all the toilet paper, then sign me up.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Presumably the length is calculated by dead reckoning based on a reset when the roll is changed. It could use a speed step change to indicate a new roll is being started - or possibly different axis accelerations indicate the roll is being changed.

  43. jake Silver badge

    The bog-roll manufacturers could talk to printer manufacturers about software that insists that a fresh roll is empty ...

  44. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Or maybe targeted ads and help the bottom line (so to speak) by offsetting the paper cost, etc.

  45. PNGuinn Silver badge

    "One that wouldn't get bogged down"

    Yup, confirmation that I'm reading elReg again ...

    So, an internet connected bog roll gyroscope - totally secure of course.

    Will they be providing a couple of power outlets so I can bring in my smart toaster and fridge freezer with me to the karzy so that they can all discuss the results and alter my diet for me?

    Seriously, considering the amount of smart rubbish many idiots seem to carry about with them the opportunities for data mining and mischief must be endless.


  46. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "The paper was put together for a Pervasive Smart Living Spaces workshop"

    That's an odd way to spell "invasive".

  47. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Obligatory youtube

  48. moiety

    Is it proper science or are they just going through the motions?

  49. Crinoid

    I smell an IgNobel prize coming out of this!

  50. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Another thing to worry about

    Please wait, your toilet is being upgraded to the latest in defecation experiences...

    Nearly there....

    PLEASE WAIT, PLEASE - oh dear.


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