When it comes to smartifying your house, the last thing you might consider is making your toilet… smarter. Yet, scientists have a very good reason (and method) for doing that: tracking your health status daily and being able to make an early diagnosis. Artificial intelligence, obviously, plays a big part in that.
At the recently-held Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) 2021, researchers at Duke University presented their new AI tool that could smartify your toilet. Their machine learning program was devised to give doctors such as gastroenterologists an accurate and recurrent health history of its users.
The idea is simple: take images of stool samples from the pipe systems of the toilet, analyze them and transfer that data to gastroenterologists who are able to identify chronic illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Why the need for dedicated tech? Turns out, many patients have a hard time remembering or recounting the frequency or looks of their stools. Unlike the times when patients take stool samples and bring them to the lab, at the doctor’s recommendation, routine checkups hardly reveal potential digestive problems.
Here’s where this new smart toilet tool could make a difference: “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.” said Deborah Fisher, MD, one of the lead authors on the study in a statement.
To make this work and guarantee pretty accurate results, however, researchers had to train the AI using 3,328 unique stool images. Before they were fed to the machine learning algorithm, these were classified by gastroenterologists according to a worldwide clinical standard.
Once the deep learning algorithm went through the data it was able to make its own predictions, with an accuray rate of 85.1%.
There’s still some work to be done before this could be deployed in people’s homes or at long-term care facilities but the best part is that the user doesn’t need to do anything to make it work. Other than flush, of course 😉