Scientists Invent Smart Toilet That Sends Poop Data to Your Doctor

Scientists think artificial intelligence could help doctors treat their patients' bowel and stomach issues by using a camera installed in their toilets.

The technology could be particularly useful for patients who may not be able to report their symptoms themselves, researchers say.

A team of gastroenterologists—medics who specialize in stomach and intestinal disorders—developed the technology by looking at thousands of photographs of stool samples.

The researchers looked at 3,328 stool images in total from volunteers or found online, and reviewed and annotated each based on the Bristol Stool Scale, which classifies different types of feces.

They then put artificial intelligence to work on the images, tasking it with classifying the types of stool pictured. They found it was correct 85.1 percent of the time in classifying the type of stool, and 76.3 percent of the time in blood detection.

The researchers think that this AI, coupled with a camera placed inside of toilets, could help doctors treat patients with chronic gastrointestinal issues.

They call the idea "Smart Toilet technology." It would work by snapping an image of the patients' stool after they flush the toilet, and collecting this data over time.

According to Dr. Deborah Fisher, a lead author on the study and associate professor of medicine at Duke University Durham in North Carolina, gasteroenterologists usually have to rely on patients reporting details on their stool samples themselves, which can be very unreliable.

Dr. Fisher said in a statement: "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."

Patients wouldn't have to buy a new toilet for this to work. It could be fitted into the pipes of the toilet they already have.

Sonia Grego, a lead researcher on the study, said the technology could help detect a flare-up in a condition, such as inflammatory bowel disease, and monitor how the patient responds to treatment.

"This could be especially useful for patients who live in long-term care facilities who may not be able to report their conditions and could help improve initial diagnosis of acute conditions," Grego added.

The research was presented at Digestive Disease Week, an international gathering of medical experts in the field of the digestive system. It ran between May 21 and May 23 this year.

Toilet flush
A stock image shows someone pressing a toilet handle to flush it. Researchers think "Smart Toilet" technology may help doctors treat bowel issues. Panuwat Dangsungnoen/Getty