STANFORD, Calif. — Many people like to wear gadgets that monitor their health. From smart watches to smartphone apps, you can track your fitness just about anywhere these days. Now, scientists are working on a new gadget you wouldn’t wear for a diagnosis. Instead, you sit on it: the smart toilet.
Dr. Sanjiv “Sam” Gambhir and his team developed the unique accessory for the home. The professor and chair of radiology at Stanford University says his smart toilet will be able to not only recognize its user, but find warning signs for cancer and other diseases when they go to the bathroom.
“When I’d bring it up, people would sort of laugh because it seemed like an interesting idea, but also a bit odd,” Gambhir said in a university release.
It might seem odd, but the researchers have already completed a successful pilot study with 21 people who had their “daily business” studied by the smart toilet.
How Does A Smart Toilet Know Something’s Wrong?
The technology works like an add-on to the toilet that’s already in your home. Once fitted to your bowl, an assortment of health-monitoring features will sample your urine and stool. Chemical strips, better known as “dipstick tests,” measure things like white blood cell counts and blood contamination.
Certain results can point to warning signs for anything from a bladder infection to cancer to kidney failure. Right now, Gambhir says his smart toilet can measure 10 different markers which could reveal a problem. That information is sent to a cloud-based network for security and can then be sent to your doctor for a professional diagnosis.
“Everyone uses the bathroom — there’s really no avoiding it — and that enhances its value as a disease-detecting device,” the Stanford professor said.
A Toilet With A Camera?
One feature that may catch some users off guard, the smart toilet also comes with a camera built in. According to the researchers, the device doesn’t just measure your waste, it also monitors how you’re going to the bathroom.
The camera watches for things like stream rate and total volume and matches it against what’s normally considered healthy.
“Your Anal Print Is Unique.”
So just how does a smart toilet know your pee is actually yours? Simply put, your seat can figure out who’s sitting on it.
“The whole point is to provide precise, individualized health feedback, so we needed to make sure the toilet could discern between users,” Gambhir explained.
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According to the researchers, a person’s rear end is just like a fingerprint and can’t be mistaken for another user.
“We know it seems weird, but as it turns out, your anal print is unique,” Gambhir added. That rear end recognition system keeps the toilet from confusing users which a fingerprint scanner could if, for example, you don’t flush after every use.
The Stanford professor adds this very personal data would be kept completely private and the system would follow all the rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act when it’s sent to a doctor.
“The smart toilet is the perfect way to harness a source of data that’s typically ignored — and the user doesn’t have to do anything differently,” Gambhir says.
The study’s findings are published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.
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