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Health care is about to be disrupted by...smart toilets

From big name brands to smaller startups, toilets are becoming the hottest tech around.

By Architectural Digest US | October 28, 2021 | Category

Image: smarthome.kohler.com
Image: smarthome.kohler.com

Is the future of health care a flush away? Vik Kashyap, the founder and CEO of Toi Labs, might argue yes.

“After working alongside scientists in Silicon Valley on a number of businesses, I became obsessed with the notion that the future of health care is going to be in the home. To that end, the toilet is going to be the most important medical product in our future,” he says. With bells and whistles like heated seats and motion-sensing lids, smart toilets have grown in popularity as of late, but Toi Labs’ TrueLoo is doing something no others on the market are (yet): They’re specifically designed to monitor health based on the bowl’s, ahem, contents, which could be instrumental for preventative care.

Toi Labs' TrueLoo can be attached to any already existing toilet and it recognizes the person who sits on it by their phone. Image: Toi Labs

And as it turns out, there is quite a bit of data one can glean from smart toilets. Joshua Coon, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducted a small study where he discovered that a 10-day urine sample’s tiny molecules could indicate anything from proof of exercise to drug metabolism. Of course, this begs the question: In the race to be healthy, are there security and privacy trade-offs? (Should parents be able to monitor their kids’ drinking or substance use, for instance? And what about private companies or government agencies?)

Until these appliances become mainstream, people are perfectly happy with smart toilets that prioritize luxury, hygiene, and comfort. Kohler, for instance, introduced the Numi toilet, which is perhaps the brand’s most advanced loo to date, with ambient colored lighting, wireless Bluetooth music with sync capabilities, a heated seat, and even a foot warmer. It also boasts a sustainable element with a power-saving mode for energy efficiency, as well as an “emergency flush” feature that can be used during power outages.

The Numi toilet from Kohler features a motion-activated, hands-free opening and closing seat and cover. Plus, there's an ambient lighting feature that comes with eight colors and three programming options. Image: Kohler Co.

Meanwhile, Toto is focusing on the environment in their Neorest collection of smart toilets. One, the NX2 dual flush, offers an automatic flushing system and both energy- and water-saving functions. Not to mention Toto’s proprietary Actilight bowl cleaning and Ewater+ technology that keeps the wand and bowl clean—because no one likes toilet-cleaning duty.

Whether or not smart toilets will become a regular element in bathrooms is still unclear, but companies like Toi Labs, Kohler, and Toto are all working on it. When roughly half of the world’s population doesn’t even have access to safe sanitation, figuring out how to scale these health-minded smart toilets could make a major impact.

This was originally published on Architectural Digest US.

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