Health checks from your doctor could be replaced by visits to the bathroom, thanks to smart toilets developed by several Japanese companies.
An “Intelligence Toilet” system, created by Japan’s largest toilet company, Toto, can measure sugar levels in urine, blood pressure, heart rate, body fat and weight. The results are sent from the toilet to a doctor by an internet-capable cellular phone built into the toilet. Through long distance monitoring, doctors can chart a person’s physical well-being.
In a country where nursing homes are mostly full and the number of older people is increasing, Japan’s engineers are turning to continuous health monitoring via the home toilet.
“In Japan, most people see a doctor after they become ill,” said Hironori Yamazaki, a Toto engineer. “With an eye to our demographic change, we are setting out to make the toilet a space for the early discovery of disease.”
Users begin their bathroom health check with the tiny receptacle located inside the toilet bowl that collects five cubic centimeters (0.15 fluid ounces) of urine before analyzing sugar levels. The device cleans itself automatically after the one-minute long test. Users then move to the blood pressure monitor, within arm’s reach of the toilet, then weigh themselves on a set of scales in front of the basin and measure their body mass index (BMI) after washing their hands.
Once results are taken, they are transferred to a home network, and analyzed on a computer spreadsheet. Advice about diet and exercise is then dispensed. For example, graphs on a desktop PC will show if glucose levels have been fluctuating, along with urine temperatures. These trends can help diabetics time insulin shots.
The Intelligent Toilet is equipped with a measurement function for lifestyle related diseases, such as obesity, and has a function that individually records one year’s worth of measurement data for up to four people in a household.
One of the things that users desire in managing health at home is ingenuity that enables them to continue good habits. The data recorded on the PC can be displayed on a graph as weekly, monthly and yearly units using the health management software.
In the US, the Intelligent Toilet could one day alleviate the laborious process of obtaining lab work which usually requires a doctor’s prescription, a trip to a lab, and the long wait for results.