Since a) microchips and sensors are rapidly approaching the dimensions and cheapness of grey goo, and since b) tech firms are eager to collect data on basically anything about us, it probably shouldn't be surprising that tech firms are making smart toilets now.
As is usual with self-monitoring tools, the concept is in theory quite promising: Poop and pee contain all manner of extremely useful info about our health, so analyzing them regularly could provide people with advice and early detection of disease.
But as is also usual with commericalized self-monitoring tools, instead of this being data that you have autonomous control over — i.e. that's used by you, for you — it'll almost certainly be hoarded by corporations and used against your interests, when it isn't being leaked all over the place by clownishly terrible security practices.
Oh, and apparently one's "analprint" is scannable and unique, so large commercial interests — and their friends in police and spy agencies — will be able to know precisely where and when you pooped! (Previously.)
Good times, good times.
Many people "wouldn't, for very good reasons, like cameras pointing up their bottoms", says Phil Booth, the coordinator of MedConfidential, which campaigns for the confidentiality of medical records. That said, under the guidance of a medical professional, "there are not necessarily inherent privacy risks" in using a smart toilet as a medical device, he says. However, it might get interesting if the data created by general consumer use was owned by a company: "You may trust that particular company, but every company is pretty much buyable by Google or Facebook or Amazon. Then, what I thought was something for my own health monitoring has become fodder to business models I really know nothing about." [break]
Information from stool and urine samples could provide all sorts of information – your risk of disease, your diet, your exercise level; how much alcohol you drink and whether you take drugs. Even tracking something as trivial as the time of day you use the loo – regularly in the night, for instance, indicating sleeplessness – could reveal conditions such as depression or anxiety.
(Toilet photo via Pixabay)