Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Smart toilets, bored students, why crowds gather, and tasty rocks—it’s the 2023 Ig Nobel Awards

  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. New York

We have smartphones and smart watches, so why not smart toilets? Seung-min Park and his colleagues from Stanford University School of Medicine would like people to use the Stanford toilet, a smart toilet that monitors their excretions much as a smart watch counts their daily steps. For this achievement the team won the 2023 Ig Nobel Award for Public Health.1234

Park told The BMJ he has met some resistance to the Stanford toilet. “There’s a huge perception of human excreta as taboo,” he said. He got a “brutal rejection” from a major science foundation that said his project violated decorum.

The Stanford toilet uses a variety of technologies including a urinalysis dipstick test strip, a computer vision system for defecation analysis, an anal print sensor paired with an identification camera, and a telecommunications link to monitor and quickly analyse the substances that people excrete. It could be linked to a person’s electronic health record.

The smart toilet device could be fitted beneath existing toilet seats, fit into ordinary daily routines, and passively record health information, Park explained. It would record non-invasive measurements of excreta for precision health—preventive, continuous monitoring of health measures. A fingerprint sensor on the flush lever would identify the user at the end of each …

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