I was at a rather spiffy library today with automatic everything in the restrooms. It wasn’t to the extent of some places (airports and mondo shopping malls are worse), but there were a lot of sensors in there. When someone else came, did his thing, and just walked to the sink without doing anything, it got me thinking.
What if automatic flush valves are a self-reinforcing product? Think about it. It used to be that one had to be very meticulous to always flush before leaving. Now, with all the automation, some people just ignore the whole valve and trust it to do its job.
If people ignore the valve, they might start assuming that every toilet has automatic flush and just walk away without checking to make sure it actually does (and if it has, checking to make sure it worked). So that could mean more unflushed toilets (yuck), which would spur the installation of yet more automatic flush devices.
With my reasoning, the very fact that automatic flush devices exist and are installed in restrooms across the country creates a demand for them as society becomes less aware of the existence of manual flushes. Granted it’s far-fetched—there’s no way people will really forget until auto-flush becomes a household fixture—but we could be on the way there.
Or am I just reading all kinds of stuff into a situation for no reason?
Update (04/06): Hmm. Today, I found one auto-flush that missed, and twice had it flush on me while I was just in there getting a piece of tissue paper for my nose. If nothing else, the sensors are a tad unreliable.