Smart toilet detects cancer through 'anal print' using artificial intelligence, claim researchers
Researchers at Stanford University have developed a smart toilet that they say is capable of detecting early warning signs of cancer as well as a host of other diseases.
The toilet works via an upward-facing camera, test strips, and artificial intelligence to analyze feces and urine as it passes through, according to the Independent.
It will require the user to retrofit an ordinary toilet at their homes with the necessary gadgets to perform the tests and use a companion app that analyzes the data and displays the results.
The toilet will fall into a category of technology known as continuous health monitoring that includes devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers but is unique from the others in the category in the sense that it has an ability to identify each individual user through their "anal print" biometric data.
"We know it sounds weird, but as it turns out, your anal print is unique. Our concept dates back well over 15 years," said Sanjiv Gambhir, the professor behind the idea. "When I’d bring it up, people would sort of laugh because it seemed like an interesting idea, but also a bit odd."
"The thing about a smart toilet is that, unlike wearables, you can’t take it off," he continued. "Everyone uses the bathroom — there’s really no avoiding it — and that enhances its value as a disease-detecting device."
Researchers ultimately hope that this kind of disease-detecting technology will negate traditional stool tests and prove particularly useful to those who are genetically predisposed to certain conditions.
Professor Gambhir, however, warned that the toilet should not be seen as a replacement for a doctor or even a diagnosis, and that, ideally, the data from the smart toilet will be sent privately to healthcare professionals to determine the correct course of action.
"We have taken rigorous steps to ensure that all the information is de-identified when it’s sent to the cloud and that the information — when sent to health care providers — is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act," he shared.
The smart toilet has been tested on 21 people over the course of the past several months and researchers are reportedly looking to expand its capabilities so it can monitor up to 10 different health conditions and diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancers.
It could prove to be a life-saver considering how 10.5 percent of Americans have some form of diabetes and, every year, more than eight million die to cancer. Heart disease, on the other hand, is the leading cause of death in the country and is responsible for taking more than 600,000 lives a year.
For now, the biggest challenge for Gambhir will be user acceptance, though the initial outlook is positive. A survey of 300 prospective users found that 37 percent of people were ”somewhat comfortable” and 15 percent were "very comfortable" with the idea of using it for health reasons.
The technology which will be used has been published in the scientific journal, 'Nature Biomedical Engineering.' Some day, the developers want the smart toilet to be a part of the average home bathroom, though a press release from Stanford University cheekily warned that "users must make their peace with a camera that scans their anus."