It seems like every other day we read about some far-out, new technology that makes us scratch our heads and say, "What the heck?" In this series, we'll take a look at all types of crazy new gadgets, apps and other technologies -- and the entrepreneurs dreaming them up.
The porcelain throne is the latest household workhorse to be reinvented as a flashy new smart device, joining the ranks of refrigerators, toasters, thermostats and a growing number of other and otherwise dull appliances getting in on the Internet of Things. In other words, the toilet of the future will be flush with information. Maybe too much information -- the kind that exists in your waste matter and speaks volumes about your overall health.
Based on input from your, er, output, it’ll know if you lack certain nutrients or have diabetes or kidney disease. And, ladies, it’ll even know if you’re pregnant. Weird, yes, we know.
Enter Wellbeing, an ergonomically-correct toilet prototype designed by three industrial design graduates at the University of the Arts London Central Saint Martins College. The main objective of the Wellbeing throne -- which we have to admit is pretty aesthetically attractive as toilets go -- is to encourage users to squat, not sit, when they do their business. The designers claim its shape -- which is a marriage of the common chair-shaped toilet and the squat toilet commonly used throughout Japan -- is more conducive to healthfully answering nature’s call.
Sure, it’s all good and fine that the Wellbeing makes you assume a better, more natural elimination posture. And, true, doing so could potentially reduce constipation and colon cancer, but we’re much more intrigued about Wellbeing’s ability to deliver some seriously cool biometric feedback. The inventors told NBC News that the toilet’s biometric feedback sensors could eventually analyze urine and solid waste for biomarkers of pregnancy and nutritional deficiencies, and for various illnesses. Will it also test for drug and alcohol levels, we wonder?
But don’t freak out just yet. The all-knowing commode we’re talking about is still just a concept. For now.
Unfortunately there isn’t much more information available on precisely how the can’s biosensors would work, where they would be positioned or how much the toilet could cost. That’s because it’s still in the prototype phase. “It would need to be discussed with engineers and manufacturers to be viable," co-designer Pierre Papet told NBC News, "but the basics are there."
Tech-enhanced toilets in various outlandish iterations aren’t a new concept. Who could forget last year’s CTA Digital’s much-lampooned iPotty, a potty-training “activity seat” and iPad holder hybrid for spoiled toddlers. For adults, there’s a surprisingly wide range of smart toilet options. Perhaps the most lavish so far is the Kohler’s $4,500 Numi model, which is decked out with a touchscreen remote control panel, motion-activated cover and heated toilet seat, charcoal-filter deodorizer, foot warmer, and Bluetooth music streaming.
But can it tell you if you’re sick or pregnant? Nope. No such luck.
What crazy apps and gadgets have you come across lately? Let us know by emailing us at FarOutTech@entrepreneur.com or by telling us in the comments below.