Smart Toilet uses AI to monitor gut health

May 31, 2021
Smart Toilet uses AI to monitor gut health

A new “Smart Toilet” technology developed by Duke University could potentially inform about a patient’s gut health by analysing their stool and looking out for irregularities like blood – profiling the contents of faeces could improve understanding of bacteria living inside our gut and highlight signs of conditions like inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome.

The Smart Toilet technology is designed to be installed in the pipes of existing toilets and collect images of stools that were flushed through. An artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm was trained on more than 3,000 images of unique stools, all of which had been classified by gastroenterologists as loose, normal, constipated, and/or whether there was blood present; the AI algorithm was then able to analyse the images on its own and accurately classify the stool 85% of the time, and accurately detect blood 76% of the time.

“Typically, gastroenterologists have to rely on patient self-reported information about their stool to help determine the cause of their gastrointestinal health issues, which can be very unreliable,” said Dr. Deborah Fisher, associate professor of medicine at Duke University. “Patients often can’t remember what their stool looks like or how often they have a bowel movement, which is part of the standard monitoring process. The Smart Toilet technology will allow us to gather the long-term information needed to make a more accurate and timely diagnosis of chronic gastrointestinal problems.”

Researchers have for years been entertaining the idea of using smart toilets or even smart toilet paper to swiftly analyse our stools; besides this prototype at Duke University, a smart toilet is being developed at Stanford University that analyses both forms of human waste to uncover potential signs of disease.

“We are optimistic about patient willingness to use this technology because it’s something that can be installed in their toilet’s pipes and doesn’t require the patient to do anything other than flush,” added Sonia Grego, founding director of the Duke Smart Toilet Lab. “This could be especially useful for patients who may not be able to report their conditions, such as those who live in a long-term care facility.”

Read: Certain gut-bacteria found to protect from radiation damage

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Category: Features, Technology & Devices

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