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Smart Toilets: Doctors in Your Bathroom

To those unfamiliar with Japanese culture, certain trends may seem unusual: manga and anime, the love affair with robotics, tea ceremonies…computerized talking toilets. Yeah, Americans don’t often run into those. So get the jokes out of the way (we all get one, just one), shrug off the discomfort, and let’s sit down and talk toilet.

Toto's new Intelligence Toilet II monitors weight, blood sugar levels, and other vital signs, transferring data to your computer for analysis via WiFi.

Toto's new Intelligence Toilet II monitors weight, blood sugar levels, and other vital signs, transferring data to your computer for analysis via WiFi.

Toto’s newest smart john, the Intelligence Toilet II, is proving that it is more than an ordinary porcelain throne by recording and analyzing important data like weight, BMI, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.

There’s a “sample catcher” in the bowl that can obtain urine samples. Even by Japanese standards that’s impressive. Yes it has the bidet, the air dryer, and heated seat, but it’s also recording pertinent information. This information is beamed to your computer via WiFi and can help you, with the guidance of a trained physician, monitor health and provide early detection for some medical conditions. Graphs on your desktop PC will show how your glucose levels have been fluctuating, along with urine temperatures. These trends can help diabetics time insulin shots as well as give insight into hormone levels for women concerned with their menstrual cycles. Trying to have a baby? Not sure when your most likely to conceive? Ask your toilet for help.

toto_toilet_intelligence

Sleek, stylish, and medically inclined, the Toto toilet of the future may help you track your health.

More than a pipe dream

If you’re not intrigued by the very idea of health analysis coinciding with bathroom time, I should point out the larger trend here: continuous body monitoring. Singularity Hub has been keeping tabs on vital signs tracked in real time, and Toto’s newest toilet is another example of the genre. More importantly, nanotech enthusiasts, (and most scientists in general) have been anxiously awaiting the lab-on-a-chip phenomenon: a way to analyze many different samples and perform many different experiments using a small portable device (the “chip”).

Intelligence Toilets are, perhaps surprisingly, one of the precursors to the common use of this greater technology. In spirit, if not in technology, the Intelligence Toilet II embodies many of the necessary designs of an eventual use of lab-on-a-chip. These toilets provide passive, regular, and wide-ranging analysis for consumers’ health.

Look ahead five or ten years when many crucial medical tests will be able to be performed by automated systems utilizing lab-on-a-chip technology. It will likely be inconvenient or too costly to have every surface in your home rigged to monitor your health. Implants may certainly be used but where would you put an external sensor to compliment the functions of the internal one? Why not use the place that everyone visits at least once a day anyway? Toilets are the ideal place to perform a daily checkup of your body’s fluids.

Now, it may seem like I’m inflating the issue, but I’m not just blowing air up your butt. (Ok, I said we get one, just one). Urinalysis has been an important medical tool for centuries and still is today. The Intelligence Toilet II may only perform rudimentary monitoring now, but give it time. As lab technology grows, Toto will keep up. These are the guys who first brought Japan the porcelain toilet back in 1917. By their centennial anniversary they may by producing Toilets with MDs. At $6100 a pop (with complete installation) I’m not sure I can recommend you go out and buy one of these bad boys, but the first Intelligence Toilet (mark I) has already sold more than 10,000 units worldwide. Technophilic or just concerned about their health, some people are starting to think it’s a good idea to flush a little money down the toilet.

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7 comments

  • John says:

    I think the urine sample catcher would be great for doctor’s offices, so you don’t have to walk around carring your own pee in a little jar. I hate that.

  • John says:

    I think the urine sample catcher would be great for doctor’s offices, so you don’t have to walk around carring your own pee in a little jar. I hate that.

  • Nick says:

    Okay the joke: I for one can’t wait for computerized talking toilets. Especially since geeks love to hack sh*t like this. I want to hack mine so it screams in agony when I take a dump.

    All kidding aside, I can’t wait to own a Dr. Toilet. I want to know when my output is unhealthy. As they say in programming, garbage in, garbage out. If garbage is coming out, I will seek to modify my input stream. It’ll be a transformative tool, akin to going from boring old weight-only bathroom balances to the one I have that measure body fat, bone %, body water % and then calculates your BMI for you (as well as just weight).

    And even though it was a joke, I’m serious. I’ll reprogram that sucker to scream when I poop. Then invite my best friend over to use it without telling him, because we have a running joke about “killing it,” referencing the above toilet-scream-inducing functions. No one else might like it, but we’d laugh over it to our dying day (and probably keep it till same).

    I think I may have to whip out joke number 2 (ouch) – the same buddy and I also have a running joke about Toto’s song Africa (Toto being the toilet brand referenced in the article), and references to diarrhea being the brown rain… so if you remember the lyrics, feel free to connect the dots there, I’m not going any further for decorum’s sake.

  • Nick says:

    Okay the joke: I for one can’t wait for computerized talking toilets. Especially since geeks love to hack sh*t like this. I want to hack mine so it screams in agony when I take a dump.

    All kidding aside, I can’t wait to own a Dr. Toilet. I want to know when my output is unhealthy. As they say in programming, garbage in, garbage out. If garbage is coming out, I will seek to modify my input stream. It’ll be a transformative tool, akin to going from boring old weight-only bathroom balances to the one I have that measure body fat, bone %, body water % and then calculates your BMI for you (as well as just weight).

    And even though it was a joke, I’m serious. I’ll reprogram that sucker to scream when I poop. Then invite my best friend over to use it without telling him, because we have a running joke about “killing it,” referencing the above toilet-scream-inducing functions. No one else might like it, but we’d laugh over it to our dying day (and probably keep it till same).

    I think I may have to whip out joke number 2 (ouch) – the same buddy and I also have a running joke about Toto’s song Africa (Toto being the toilet brand referenced in the article), and references to diarrhea being the brown rain… so if you remember the lyrics, feel free to connect the dots there, I’m not going any further for decorum’s sake.

  • JakeHilfter says:

    da best. Keep it going! Thank you

  • JakeHilfter says:

    da best. Keep it going! Thank you

  • mediabeing says:

    The way I see it, the toilet has a LONG way to go yet.

    Along with evaluating your excrement, solid and fluid, the toilet should actually help one go to the bathroom.
    The future toilet will be able to adjust in height and angle relative to the floor. It will allow the user to scrunch down to put more pressure on the bowels and it will have truly effective deodorizing systems. There will never be even a hint of the malodorous number two or the gases thereof when the future toilet finally shows up.

    Let’s see a toilet that actually collects the valuable minerals and chemicals one excretes daily. THAT would be something!

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