Forget experimental brain surgery and robotic prosthetics. The future of healthcare may *literally* be in the toilet. One company has developed a smart toilet that can analyze the user’s waste to find signs of disease and other health disruptions.
Toi Labs founder and CEO Vikram Kashyap became obsessed with the smart health toilet as a result of his own struggle with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes colon sores, bloody diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and abdominal pain. As he sought to understand this uncurable condition, he worked with researchers at the University of California, San Francisco to analyze his own stool samples as part of a four-year study. After the results were published in Science magazine in 2010, Kashyap started his own company to make valuable health data more available, especially for the elderly.
Building his Toi Labs company in San Francisco, he and his team got to work on the TrueLoo, a smart toilet that uses sensor technology to evaluate human waste to identify a variety of urinary and digestive disorders. It can be installed in just a few minutes like a bidet, and its optics-based urine and stool measurements can aid in detecting dehydration, viral infections, and urinary tract infections — an especially common ailment for seniors.
The concept of testing urine and feces for disease proved very valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because people could be asymptomatic while carrying COVID, many municipalities around the world began tracking COVID markers in city wastewater to get a better picture of it local prevalence.
Other studies have confirmed the efficacy of urine and stool analysis for discovering various health issues. Researchers Joshua Coon and Ian Miller at the University of Wisconsin, Madison tested over 100 of their own urine samples in 10 days and found that using advanced technology, waste monitoring could detect not only things like glucose levels, viral and bacterial infections, signs of kidney disease, and cancer, but also measures of caffeine-consumption and exercise levels. Of course, the type of machinery they used are not yet compatible with smart toilets, but Kashyap’s sensor models are a good jumping-off point.
Some senior care communities are already incorporating these smart toilets in their facilities to provide better health care for their residents. The Legacy Senior Communities in Dallas and Plano, Texas installed the TrueLoo in their private residences to more easily collect important health data. This can be especially helpful with assisted living and memory support occupants, who may not be able to describe their physical ailments as well.
“The TrueLoo smart toilet enables us, in a dignified and valuable manner, to better monitor and follow up when important changes to output are identified. This expedites our response and increases the accuracy and timeliness of important data,” said Legacy Senior Communities CEO Melissa Orth in an interview with a local news outlet.
Kashyap chimed in on the added efficiency his smart toilets provide these facilities, noting: “TrueLoo technology provides a higher level of wellness for residents while better leveraging the time of care staff.”
After the pandemic forced people around the world into lockdown, millions of people suffered from other diseases and infections because they had no access to their doctors for months. Home healthcare monitoring options like the TrueLoo make sense for avoiding similar situations in the future.
“I think at the end of the day, we’re increasingly moving towards a world where people are going to be making their own health care choices themselves and having the data that can be generated from themselves,” Kashyap said in an interview with Onezero. “I think it’s going to just completely shift the power in health care and the way consumers engage with the healthcare system.”