The system could help reduce some of the millions of annual gastrointestinal health emergencies
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Spotted: Created by the Duke Smart Toilet Lab, the AI-enabled stool analysis system provides insights into individual and collective health. The team from Duke University’s Centre for Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Infectious Disease (WaSH-AID) is developing the technology in three parts. The sampling toilet requires users to do nothing other than flush. The AI-enabled camera located in the piping provides automated tracking of samples over a period of time, and a series of connected toilets allow for building-wide surveillance of general public health.
Researchers say the need for improved and increased gastrointestinal healthcare is urgent, as the annual healthcare costs for diseases of this part of the body are greater than the annual costs of heart disease. Retrofitting toilets for faecal biomarkers could significantly reduce the cost and time of diagnosis. Being able to build up a picture over a period of weeks and months also allows for a much more accurate understanding of a disease, its flare-ups and the efficacy of medications. Automated tracking also improves upon the highly variable self-reporting that much of gastrointestinal care relies on currently.
As well as monitoring for COVID-19, installing the system throughout a building allows for rapid identification of healthcare-acquired infections. This helps facilities such as long term elderly care housing to better manage early outbreaks of exceptionally contagious diseases.
Currently a prototype, the Smart Toilet remains in development, and scientists are asking members of the public to submit photos of their stools to help strengthen the analytic capabilities of the AI.
Written by: Keely Khoury