Smart Toilets Are Revealing the Health Data That Wearables Can’t
More than heart rate and exercise, smart toilets may soon track disease, sleep patterns, and drug use
There’s no well-worn career path to becoming a stool analyst, says Vikram Kashyap. To become the founder and CEO of San Francisco–based human waste analysis company Toi Labs, Kashyap had to break his own ground — by analyzing his own poop.
Kashyap has ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes sores in his colon, abdominal cramps and pain, rectal bleeding, and bloody diarrhea. The disease is, so far, incurable, though its debilitating effects can be curbed to some degree. Kashyap tried experimental treatments on himself, analyzing samples of his own stool in the process with the help of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. Results of the four-year study were published in Science in 2010 and kicked off an earnest effort to develop a “smart toilet” that could help people monitor their personal health.
“I think more than anything, what [the study] did for me is it solidified my own interest in increasingly what became an obsession,” Kashyap says.
“I think the trend is that people are going to become their own managers of their health.”
Manufacturer Toto pioneered the “smart toilet” in the 1980s with devices that could warm or wash your tush at the press of the button. Entrepreneurs like Kashyap think smart toilets can revolutionize personal health by making precision medicine more accessible and affordable for consumers.
“I think the trend is that people are going to become their own managers of their health,” Kashyap says.
Toi Labs developed the TrueLoo, a smart toilet seat that the company claims can be installed in minutes, like a bidet. The TrueLoo uses sensor technology to analyze human waste and help aging users and their caregivers monitor a variety of urinary and digestive disorders. By taking optics-based measurements of waste and analyzing the data for signs of disease and disorder, the company says the TrueLoo has the potential to detect dehydration, infection with viruses, and urinary…