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Smart Home Devices May Soon Include Toilets

Neil Strother
Dec 06, 2019

Smart Home

Smart home devices usually tackle tasks related to energy savings, physical security, or convenience. The robotic vacuum is a great example of the latter. One chore mostly ignored by smart home technologies, however, is the cleaning of toilets. That could change if a new startup has its way. Shine Bathroom has raised $750,000 in seed money to make and sell its first product, a device that attaches to an existing toilet to make it smart.

Make It Shine

The Shine Bathroom Assistant automatically cleans and deodorizes a toilet without chemicals. Instead of chemicals, the device relies on electrolyzed water to clean the bowl, a process that passes an electric current through tap water to turn it into a powerful cleansing agent. The device also has an artificial intelligence (AI) agent that can diagnose problems with a toilet’s plumbing and notify the user with steps for fixing it. The Shine device sells for $99, though it is not expected to ship until February 2020.

Demand for a product like Shine might be stronger than many people think. A consumer survey in the UK finds the leading device Britons hope to see developed is a self-cleaning toilet. Self-cleaning carpets and a multi-shelf oven that cooks separate foods at different temperatures simultaneously are the next most-desired smart devices.

Health Scan Potential

Beyond self-cleaning, though, smart toilets could revolutionize healthcare. A small-scale study by professors at the University of Wisconsin suggests that regular collection (via a smart toilet) and analysis of a person’s urine could provide a personalized and predictive healthcare regimen beyond today’s norm. The results of initial samples “contain a remarkable health fingerprint that follows the ebbs and flows of daily life,” according to a press release. For instance, “one subject took acetaminophen, which was measured in urine by a spike in ion intensity. They were also able to measure with precision the metabolic outputs from exercise and sleep.” Since urinary metabolites are associated with approximately 600 human conditions, smart toilet analysis could change healthcare. Labs are developing proof of principle.

The next step for the University of Wisconsin researchers is to design a smart toilet that includes a spectrometer that recognizes individuals and processes samples among a variety of subjects. Once devised, the team intends to install the smart toilet in their research facility and increase the number of test subjects to a dozen or more.

Similar to the lowly thermostat, which got an upgrade when the first Nest products launched, toilets could be the next humble household product to gain from advanced technologies. For a comprehensive view of the smart home market and where it is headed, check out The Smart Home Overview from Navigant Research, a Guidehouse company.