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Could a Smart Toilet Predict IBS?

Advances in medicine are constant and seem to occur daily. Technology often blends with modern medicine. This creates technology-enhanced products and apps aimed at improving health and preventing disease.

Is it possible to predict disease before it develops using only noninvasive technology to analyze bodily excretion? It turns out, the answer may be yes.

A new smart toilet has been developed to collect, analyze, and help interpret disease simply by testing stool excretion from a typical bowel movement. This new technology is exciting and we wanted to learn more.

Precision medicine

Precision medicine is an innovative and new approach to medicine. This approach uses genes, environment, and lifestyle factors to treat and prevent disease. The ultimate goal of precision medicine is to monitor and treat disease in a non-invasive way. This includes methods to monitor health and identify disease in a manner that can be done on a daily basis with minimal effort or distress on the individual.

To achieve this, precision medicine techniques focus on the analysis of bodily excretion—breath, sweat, saliva, urine, and stool. These excretions are all by-products of body systems that have complex mechanisms.

Commercial products that analyze bodily excretion are readily available for at-home use. These products are typically affordable, easy to use and provide rapid testing and diagnostic results.1

Marrying biomedical engineering and precision medicine

If at-home tests easily detect and monitor complex body systems by way of monitoring excretion, then a product that collects the excretion could perhaps do both.

Enter the smart toilet.

The smart toilet is a combination of complex biomedical engineering and precision medicine. While several models have been developed previously, these have been expensive and have not seamlessly integrated into the individual’s electronic health record. Because of this, these initial models did not perform well in the consumer market.

A new proof of concept model is a smart toilet that measures the changes in excreted stool over time.

The smart toilet design

The smart toilet is designed to analyze urine and stool using noninvasive strip analysis. A small camera is used to monitor the flow of urine and the consistency of stool, to help doctors visualize the various excretions of the person using the toilet. Various monitors and motion sensors are then used to detect the time in which the person is using the toilet, as well as various additional diagnostic parameters.1

Why a smart toilet?

There is no gold standard for monitoring the type and consistency of stool excretion. Techniques to monitor this are subjective in nature and require the individual to provide feedback—the doctor never actually views the excretion.

With the smart toilet, this changes. Actual images of the individual’s excretion allow better diagnosis of various diseases, including irritable bowel disease (IBS). Because of this, it may be possible to identify early signs of IBS in the characteristics of the stool—possibly predicting the onset of IBS.

Because it is a new design, the smart toilet efficacy is still not well established. However, results of early tests show that its unique design has promise to be able to guide doctors to identify IBS and other diseases early or possibly predict their onset.1

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