'Smart toilets' to monitor and improve health
Wearable, smart technologies are transforming the ability to monitor and improve health, but a decidedly low-tech commodity – the humble toilet – may have the potential to outperform them all, a new study suggests.
A research group is designing a toilet that will incorporate a portable mass spectrometer that can recognise the individual and process samples across a variety of subjects. The group also believes the "smart toilet" concept could have major population health implications .
For the study, researchers are working to put the tremendous range of metabolic health information contained in urine to work for personalised medicine. "We're pretty sure we can design a toilet that could sample urine. I think the real challenge is we're going to have to invest in engineering to make this instrument simple enough and cheap enough. That's where this will either go far or not happen at all," said the lead author of this study.
Urine contains a virtual liquid history of an individual's nutritional habits, exercise, medication use, sleep patterns and other lifestyle choices. Urine also contains metabolic links to more than 600 human conditions, including some of the major killers such as cancer, diabetes and kidney disease.
Also, as the population gets older with more stay-at-home care, urine tests would indicate whether medications are being taken properly and are having their intended effect.