You knew it was coming. Yes, high-tech toilets might just become the next big thing in health and fitness technology.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Wearables have been growing from year to year and this is unlikely to change anytime soon. In fact, we are still in the beginning stages. Currently most of these live on our wrists. When 5G comes into widespread use they will always be connected untethering them from smartphones and allowing them to live on the cloud. First we’ll have 5G fitness trackers and smartwatches, then 5G smart clothes. But there might be a better way of tracking health.
We wrote recently about Inui Health, formerly known as Scanadu. The outfit has announced it is working on the first clinical grade home urine analysis platform. Such tests were previously available only at a lab or medical facility. The yet-to-be launched, FDA-approved kit consists of a disposable test and smartphone app.
To use you’ll need to fill the single-use cup with urin up to the required level. The next step consists of dipping the measuring paddle into the liquid and scanning the readings with the smartphone app. This will then let you know if there’s anything to be worried about.
It would be nice if all this could be done for your automatically. Let’s face it, no-one really likes to mess around with stomach-wrenching urine or poop.
Hence the idea of smart toilets. When you think of health and fitness gadgets this is not really something that springs to mind. Unless you live in Japan, that is.
The country has been using and selling smart toilets for a while now. In fact, you’ll never encounter a more pleasant restroom than in Japan.
Their toilets do everything from automatically lifting and lowering the lid, to heating, and playing music to cover “certain noises”. Most of this is focused on hygiene and comfort. The pictograms on these things have even been officially standardized to prevent foreign visitors from pressing the wrong button. Some smart toilets, such as the TOTO Neorest NX, sell for up to $6,000!
Such devices are yet to gain ground in the west, though. In fact, the toilets used in the US and Europe have not really been improved upon in decades. But upgrading your loo might just become the next popular health tracking fad.
Stool and urine samples are often used by doctors to monitor for certain conditions. This includes infection, poor nutrient absorption and even certain types of cancer. A smart toilet that analyses human waste would be like going to a doctor’s checkup every day. We all use them so there’s a potential market of several billion!
The challenge is making smart toilets useful, reliable and inexpensive enough for widespread use. A product breaking new ground is unlikely to gain acceptance otherwise.
Outfits such as Toi Labs believe smart toilets will revolutionize personal healthcare in the years to come. Their flagship product is called TrueLoo, an internet-connected toilet seat that is installable on pretty much any toilet in minutes. The thing is currently used for monitoring conditions such as urinary and digestive disorders and dehydration by taking optical scans of waste.
In time, it could also be adapted to check on heart rate and blood pressure. The product is currently being tested at senior-living facilities in California, but the hope is it will be available to the general public in 2021.
Fitness trackers and smartwatches are useful for keeping tabs on health, but they can only go so far. Imagine smart toilets that will analyze urine and stool in real time every day. You’ll be able to catch signs of disease early on. In the near future, laboratory-grade equipment in your porcelain throne will make sure you don’t flush away valuable data!
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