Going to the bathroom could end up relieving your health anxieties as well as your bladder. Researchers have created a smart toilet that can analyze feces and urine for various diseases and some forms of cancer. The experimental toilet can also identify users by both their unique fingerprints, and even their anal prints. Yes, those exist.
The researchers from Stanford University published their findings in a new study in Nature Biomedical Engineering science journal on Monday. Twenty-one participants tested the smart toilet over the course of several months.
"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," lead study researcher Sanjiv Gambhir said in a statement.
The toilet used for the study was actually a basic toilet with high-tech motion-sensing tools attached inside the bowl. The toilet records video of the user's urine and feces which is then processed by algorithms that can determine urine stream time and volume, as well as a stool sample's viscosity.
The experimental toilet also uses uranalysis strips to measure the urine's white blood cell count and detect levels of proteins that best determine if the user is healthy or suffering from bladder infections, cancers, diabetes or possible kidney failure.
The collected toilet data is stored in a cloud-based system for doctors to access later.
One of the more unusual features of this smart toilet is a built-in identification system that reads the user's fingerprints on the toilet flush handle, and even weirder... an anus-recognition system.
"The whole point is to provide precise, individualized health feedback, so we needed to make sure the toilet could discern between users," Gambhir said. "We know it seems weird, but as it turns out, your anal print is unique."
The anal and fingerprint scans enable users to be matched to their specific data, which comes in handy if more than one person is using the same smart toilet. While the toilet does take scans of the anal print, it does not share those images to the user's cloud or doctors.
What's next? More participants in the study and the ability to integrate molecular features into stool analysis.
"That's a bit trickier," said Gambhir, "but we're working toward it."