There are some nonfood kitchen essentials that we hardly ever give a second thought. Aluminum foil, sealable storage bags, paper towels; these are not glamorous items. However, they are pressed into service every day, called upon to do their duty with little or no fanfare. (Well, none.) But just because we see and use items such as these without a second thought doesn’t mean that they cannot break free from the mold and endeavor to be something more.

At least in the case of paper towels, there is a brighter future. The Clean Cut Automatic Paper Towel Dispenser isn’t the first touch-free paper-towel dispenser, but its very existence seems to signal that it won’t be the last. It is designed to not only offer touch-free operation, but also to cut individual pieces without regard to where the perforations happen to be. Two sets of LED sensors provide all the necessary controls for the appliance: users wave a hand in between one set to get the roll going and another to cut the piece off.

As trivial as paper towel technology may seem, the device does make a good case for its existence. For one, anybody who has ever reached for one with dripping-wet hands knows that water rarely stays confined to a single paper towel. Then there is of course, cross contamination to consider when working with raw poultry. Finally, allowing for the paper towel to be cut to the exact size needed is a nice way to use only what is needed. Now if only aluminum foil technology can catch up.

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