24: Smart Toilet — a toilet that understands human
Here is a simple question: when people talk about smart home for the future, where is smart toilet?
So I Google Smart Toilet, unfortunately, I felt totally let down.
Sure, those fancy warming seats, water spray, breezy wind to dry your ass are all important. Maybe, eventually they learn the best temperature to blow dry different user’s bottom. So what? That is NOT what I am looking for. I want a true smart toilet, a toilet that is so smart that it understands human.
Let me tell you, what Smart Toilet I think should be.
Toilet activated by voice
After going through what’s out in the market, I am surprised that there is no voice-activated smart toilet seat design. Yes, there is one with Alexa embedded. But who will want to check traffic, download weather information when sitting on a toilet?
Why can’t the toilet seat take voice command and start the cleaning and drying process? Why do we still need touch screen or button to control it?
It’s easy, have a built-in microphone with some NLP and speaker, so the user can communicate with the toilet for needs. Imagine the following conversation.
(The user (call him Steve) sits down)
Toilet: Welcome, Steve. Let me warm your bottom.
(Toilet start heating up)
Steve: A little too hot…
Toilet: Sorry, let me adjust it a little.
Steve: This is good now.
(some other features see later sections)
Steve: I am done.
Toilet: Good job, let me clean you.
How easy is that?
Toilet that senses you
It is probably common that a toilet might be used by more than one user, even in a single family home. Let’s assume we have a couple sharing the same toilet.
Let’s install pressure sensors in the toilet seat, so after a few rounds of calibration, a toilet seat will remember which user is currently sitting on it. If in doubt, use voice recognition to add the accuracy.
This will allow the toilet to personalize settings, in terms of water temperature, drying wind strength, and seat heating level etc.
Toilet that motivates you
Once the toilet has a speaker and pressure sensors, the toilet will know how long the user has been sitting there, and who that user is. Using some simple classification algorithm, the toilet could potentially know the user may be experiencing difficulty (a.k.a constipation), it will give a motivational speech!
This may be more helpful than just being a joke.
There was a mom in Japan uploaded a video about the little sister trying to motivate her brother to poo, see this:
Toilet that gives you health advice
Thanks again to the pressure sensors and the voice recognition technology, our smart toilet will be able to provide even more caring assistance. For example, we all know many people nowadays play cellphone when sitting on the toilet, however, we also know sitting too long on the toilet is not really a good thing. Imagine this user story:
Steve sits on the toilet. (Normal greeting and heating happen)
(Steve starts leaning forward and playing phone)
(after a threshold is met, say 10 minutes)
Toilet: Steve, you are playing with your phone, aren’t you?
Toilet: Steve, we discussed this, it is not good to play phone too long when sitting on me. You should focus on doing what you are supposed to do (from here, long nagging about the harm caused by sitting too long…)
See, this is actually a useful feature!
It is possible to have another health-related feature. Imagine this:
Steve is experiencing a diarrhea. He sits down on the toilet.
Toilet: OMG, Steve, it is you again. This is forth times today!
(Toilet starts processing information)
Toilet: Steve, I have transferred information about useful tips to cope with diarrhea to your phone. I also message your love ones so they will know you are having a bad day. Additionally, I have cancelled your evening date and let her know your bowel movement situation…
OK, the last 2 suggestions are joking. I actually want to see if it is possible that a toilet can do real-time (or promptly) stool sample collection and analysis. That will help not only people with diarrhea, or may more importantly, help elderly people with chronicle disease. With no knowledge in that area, I can’t say if it can be done or not. I simply feel it will be very useful.
Today I am proposing a real smart toilet that should truly understand human, communicate with the user, and offer personalized assistance to the user. That is what I call smart for the future.