A smart bathroom that non-invasively and regularly measures and integrates blood pressure, hydration status and other health biomarkers to provide people with personalized feedback, is the exciting goal of Smart Bathroom for Health. The technology can serve as a research platform to collect objective health data at home and contribute to new (dietary) interventions and early detection of diseases.
What if… we could detect early markers of disease and develop personalized nutrition, lifestyle and medical interventions, without the need for hospital visits and time-consuming, often uncomfortable, manual measurements of bodily functions?
Measuring physiological indicators such as blood pressure and hydration status multiple times a day would allow for early detection and, possibly, prevention of diseases. Variations in blood pressure and oxygen levels can be early signs of cardiovascular diseases. Urine protein levels and fecal inflammatory markers give insight into urinary and gastrointestinal health. And gradual weight loss can go unnoticed, but might point to poor nutrition.
In Smart Bathroom for Health, OnePlanet Research Center aims to develop a variety of advanced sensors for measuring health: integrated in and around the toilet. These sensors will connect to a digital platform that interprets these data, identifying trends, predicting health issues and giving personalized advice.
Experts from imec, a specialist in high-tech sensors and wearables, are collaborating closely with nutritionists and doctors from Wageningen University & Research, Radboud University and Radboudumc, to overcome the practical and technological challenges anticipated with such a disruptive innovation. They must, for example, select those biomarkers that are most reliable and representative for health. The technology should need minimal power, and be moisture-resistant.
Fundamental to the OnePlanet vision is to ensure what is developed makes a clear and measurable difference in real life. That’s why food, pharma and technology companies are invited to join the innovation process.
Towards personalized feedback
In 2019, the first prototype of a smart toilet – it measured an individual’s physiology – was tested among visitors to the Lowlands event in Biddinghuizen, the Netherlands. A second, optimized, prototype will be tested in Summer 2021, in volunteer’s homes. The next step will be to expand the system, adding sensors to measure hydration status and fecal markers of inflammation, as well as software and artificial intelligence solutions that allow for the generation of personalized feedback.