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Smart toilet paper holder won't be ignored when roll runs out

The world may not be ready for a smart toilet paper holder that desperately tries to get your attention when it's running low.

This render shows what the finished product would look like. RollScout

There's a certain disappointment that comes with reaching for the toilet paper and finding the roll tapped out. You may go through stages of grief, denying that it's actually empty, angrily blaming your spouse for failing to refill it, and eventually accepting that you'll have to solve the problem yourself. The RollScout on Kickstarter wants to make sure you never suffer like that again.

On the surface, the RollScout looks like a modern, sleek, wall-mounted toilet paper holder, but it hides an infrared emitter and sensor. When the roll empties down enough, the emitter and sensor connect and the holder pulses with a round amber light to alert unsuspecting bathroom users to the dire nature of the situation.

The battery-powered RollScout can run for up to a year on a single A23, since it's designed to only "wake up" every few minutes to check on the roll for a split second. RollScout's team has already built a working prototype, but it's looking to raise $37,500 to go into production. With 29 days left on the project, about $200 in pledges have rolled in so far.

The RollScout will no doubt attract some unflattering comments. Not a lot of people are looking to drop $59 on a toilet paper holder, but it could be worth it as a way to passive-aggressively notify your spouse or roommates that they need to pay more attention to feeding the paper supply. Some people really are totally oblivious to rolls receding into the danger zone. A flashing light might just be what it takes to get them in line.

RollScout's biggest challenge may be that it's not smart enough. The infrared beam is clever. The flashing light is not a bad way for it to express its impending emptiness, but what would be really cool would be some proactive alerts. A toilet paper holder that sends out an emergency text message or email would have a certain amount of entertainment value, like a Bat-signal for bathroom supplies.

Ever since the potato-salad project rose to infamy, it's felt like Kickstarter is a new frontier, full of projects some people might consider questionable or insincere. RollScout certainly comes across as sincere. Ultimately, it's up to backers and their cash to decide if a project is worthy. Will RollScout make the cut or get flushed? Time will tell.

RollScout prototype
A prototype of the RollScout. RollScout