These automatic bathroom soap dispensers don’t really work for black people. ‘Racist’ soap dispensers in public bathrooms are not giving up their soap for black people, according to a viral Youtube video. The revelation could come as a relief for countless darker-skinned people if thought they were going mad or being ignored.
An African-American guest at a sci-fi convention in Atlanta did a test at the Atlanta Marriott, along with his white friend, to prove the soap dispensers would not recognise dark skin. T.J. Fitzpatrick and his friend Larry can be heard laughing throughout the video, which clocked three million views.
He told tech website Mic: ‘I wasn’t offended, but it was so intriguing, like ‘Why is it not recognising me?’ ‘I tried all the soap dispensers in that restroom, there were maybe 10, and none of them worked. ‘Any time I went into that restroom, I had to have my friend get the soap for me.’ The internet went into in meltdown as people came forward with their stories or sadly used the video for a bit of racism. Vickens Micha-El Bey wrote on Facebook: ‘O s**t I thought I was a ghost to some of these contraptions.’ Due to so many cruel comments, T.J. Fitzpatrick ended up producing more videos to back up his point.
Richard Whitney, from tech-company Particle, explained why soap dispensers and other technology have problems with darker skin types. He said: ‘The soap dispenser uses near-infrared technology, which sends out invisible light from an infrared LED bulb for hands to reflect the light back to a sensor.
‘The reason the soap doesn’t just foam out all day is because the hand acts to, more or less, bounce back the light and close the circuit. ‘If the reflective object actually absorbs that light instead, then the sensor will never trigger because not enough light gets to it.’ However, Mr Whitney also said there could be all kinds of reasons dispensers do not work correctly. The soap dispenser is another example of technology not recognising different body types, in 2010 Gadgetwise reported that the Xbox Kinect did not recognize the faces of dark-skinned gamers, Hewlett-Packard’s uneven facial recognition software also had problems and Google Photos’ auto-labeling system misidentified two black friends as ‘gorillas’.