Smart toilet could ‘diagnose gut disease before symptoms develop’

Woman using mobile phone in toilet, concept of social media addiction.

A sensor attached to a toilet listens for changes that could indicate illness (Credits: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A smart toilet has been developed that could diagnose intestinal diseases – before symptoms develop.

It’s equipped with a sensor that picks up the sound of your chair falling into the toilet or fart sounds.

The device is connected to an AI (artificial intelligence) system that classifies the evacuations.

In tests, it identified cholera and other chronic diseases – offering hope for treatment at the earliest possible date.

Maia Gatlin, an aerospace engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said: “The hope is that this sensor, which takes up little space and is non-invasive, can be used in areas where cholera outbreaks pose an ongoing risk.”

The computer’s neural network looks for subtle changes in the sounds made when someone defecates, urinates, or gas.

Hours of audio and video samples were collected from healthy and sick patients to create the formula.

Each has been converted into a spectrogram – which is essentially an image of the sound. Different events produce different characteristics.

For example, urination and defecation each produce a consistent and unique tone. In contrast, diarrhea is more random.


The sensor in action above a toilet (Credits: Maia Gatlin/ SWNS)

The scans were fed to the algorithm, which learned to order them. Performance was challenged using data with and without background noise.

This ensured that it learned the correct sound characteristics, regardless of the sensor’s environment.

Ms Gatlin said: “The sensor could also be used in disaster areas where water pollution is leading to the spread of aquatic pathogens.

“It could also be used in nursing or hospice facilities to automatically monitor a patient’s bowel movements.

“Perhaps one day our algorithm can be used with existing smart home devices to monitor one’s bowel movements and health!”

The US team plans to collect real-world acoustic data so their machine learning model can adapt to work in a variety of bathroom environments.

Cholera is a bacterial disease that causes diarrhea. Up to four million cases are diagnosed each year – resulting in about 150,000 deaths.

tissue paper isolated on white background

Cholera is a bacterial disease that causes diarrhea (Credits: Getty Images/EyeEm)

It is an acute problem in parts of the world where people are more likely to be malnourished, such as sub-Saharan Africa and rural parts of South Asia.

Cholera is the third leading cause of infant mortality worldwide, just behind pneumonia and premature birth.

Identifying a potential community spread of disease for such an outbreak would provide early alert to health workers and improve the allocation of resources and assistance.

But for obvious reasons, monitoring this and other gut disorders is a tricky business. For people with certain medical conditions such as B. inflammatory bowel disease, the device could offer doctors a helpful monitoring.

Smart toilet innovators believe the loo could become the ultimate health monitoring tool.

At some point, it might make lifestyle suggestions—tell you to eat more fiber or certain nutrients, or figure out which foods triggered an uncomfortable stomach attack.

Ms. Gaia presented her findings at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Nashville.

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Justin Scacco

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