Tech

This diagnostic poop sensor clips onto any toilet

For now, it’s focused on monitoring the health of the elderly.

VentureBeat/OutSense

OutSense wants to help us all live longer by... analyzing our excrement. The Israeli startup has secured $2.2 million in funding to bring a clip-on toilet sensor closer to market, according to VentureBeat. The IoT device uses artificial intelligence and a multispectral optical sensor to determine how often someone uses the toilet, what they’re using it for, and whether there are concerning components like blood. For now, the device is focused on checking for dehydration and urinary tract infections in elderly people, but one day the company hopes to expand its reach to include a wider demographic.

How does it work? — The sensor's big selling point is that it autonomously scans and tracks toilet activity without the need for users to handle the excrement themselves. Its current applications are directed towards the elderly, but the low-impact nature of the device makes future widespread accessibility likely. Besides, we could all benefit from greater insights into our health... are early warnings when something's amiss.

The sensor can screen for dehydration, colorectal cancer, urinary tract infections, diarrhea, and constipation, and accurately determines whether there’s blood in stools 90 percent of the time. Results are sent to a cloud-based system instantly rather than relying on lab waiting times, so users can get a daily analysis of changes. Colorectal cancer particularly benefits from early detection, so this device could be life-saving for those most at risk.

Smarter bathrooms are coming — The clip-on device is less invasive than a smart toilet debuted earlier this year by Dr. Sanjiv “Sam” Gambhir. Gambhir, an initially discounted, early diagnosis advocate, died this summer. OutSense’s device has also labored through the unglamorous world of preventative innovations in medical care — and doesn’t require the purchase of a brand new commode.

While corporations try to get into our showers, scientists are looking towards toilets for medical answers. Both approaches might feel a little too close for comfort, but at least the latter has good intentions.