Former urology teacher Seung-min Park received an Ig Nobel prize for his work on the Precision Well being rest room, a “sensible rest room” system able to detecting ailments from excreta. Park is an incoming school member at Nanyang Technological College.
The Ig Nobel Prize is a play on the phrase “ignoble” that additionally pays homage to the celebrated Nobel Prize. The prizes are awarded to tasks that contain unconventional and humorous scientific developments.
“The factor is, I’m truly very glad [to receive the prize],” Park mentioned, citing a need to destigmatize public scientific dialogue of human waste. He’s engaged on a ebook chronicling the undertaking entitled “The Throne Revolution: Good Healthcare Innovation in Bathrooms.”
Good bogs might be the newest addition to the sensible dwelling ecosystem by passively monitoring residents’ waste. The idea was initially put forth by Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, a professor and chair of radiology at Stanford who handed away from most cancers in 2020.
In line with Park, the sensible rest room will not be a substitute for a physician’s analysis, however is a screening software to triage sufferers.
In lieu of an everyday bathroom, a affected person will sit on or stand in entrance of the sensible rest room. When a person releases excreta, an intricate system of cameras, sensors, pc imaginative and prescient and machine studying will seize and course of information.
Marc Abrahams created the Ig Nobel Prize and is the Grasp of Ceremonies. He wrote that the sensible rest room “is a below-the-gut-level resolution to essential issues AND it provides individuals essential questions to consider — productively — whereas they do their each day enterprise.”
In line with Abrahams, Park was chosen as an Ig winner after quite a few nominations.
The sensible rest room performs urinalysis and uroflowmetry. In urinalysis, the bathroom deploys and retracts a strip that turns into soaked in urine. The strip is learn for a colorimetric change, which may display throughout 10 biomarkers to point presence of circumstances like diabetes. Uroflowmetry captures particulars of urine movement akin to movement charges and time elapsed, which is utilized in analysis of urinary tract efficiency. It requires the position of two cameras on the bowl, and this setup slowed down Park and his workforce once they thought-about seated customers. Such customers would have their genitalia utterly uncovered, so the workforce didn’t check uroflowmetry with them.
The sensible rest room can even carry out actual time defecation evaluation. A digital camera captures the stool because it falls into the commode, and through this time, it’s characterised by classes just like the Bristol Stool Type Scale and defecation length.
However who’s aware of the delicate info collected by the bathroom? Park mentioned the system can be HIPAA-compliant, so solely clinicians and customers have entry to the info. In line with him, the system inherently protects customers’ identities by not displaying their genitalia, however solely the excreta that falls.
Though Park and his collaborators underscore the potential of utilizing information to reinforce affected person monitoring, “[t]here’s a actual danger to over-monitoring,” wrote Jessie Ge, a sixth-year urology resident, in an electronic mail to The Every day. Ge has supplied medical views within the sensible rest room undertaking. In line with her, extreme surveillance could be related to affected person anxiousness and over-diagnosis.
Walter Park, an affiliate professor of medication and gastroenterologist who has additionally been offering medical views, sees future variations of the sensible rest room as being an “in-home laboratory that will ultimately let you know when it’s best to see a physician.”
A large number of ailments stand to profit from detection by the sensible rest room. “I believe probably the most quick enchantment is colon most cancers as a result of it’s fairly prevalent and [the colon] is probably the most proximal organ to the bathroom,” Walter Park mentioned.
Most cancers detection could not cease there. In line with Walter Park, secretions from the pancreas, liver, abdomen and even esophagus all move by way of the gut and may get excreted. Ergo in concept, most cancers of any of those organs could also be detectable from feces.
Urine could fairly actually be liquid gold relating to illness detection, since in response to Walter Park, it’s a byproduct of blood filtration. As soon as urine detection turns into a actuality, “you may measure probably any most cancers in an individual’s physique,” Park mentioned.
The sensible rest room will even reduce the onus for documentation by sufferers, resulting in greater high quality information, in response to Ge. It’ll “assist quantify info which beforehand might solely be delivered subjectively by the affected person,” akin to urination frequency and quantity, Ge wrote.
The invention has predictably been the butt of many jokes. Seung-min Park mentioned that, in January of 2022, “Stephen Colbert featured our expertise because the worst of [Consumer Electronics Show (CES)] 2022,” when actually, “we had by no means been to CES.” CES is an annual commerce present held in Las Vegas that showcases new shopper electronics applied sciences.
Seung-min Park is engaged on broader purposes with NASA, probably to ship sensible bogs into area. Park says that since astronauts are subjected to extra excessive residing circumstances of photo voltaic radiation and microgravity, sensible bogs might assist monitor their well being.
For now, the expertise will function extra of a analysis software, Ge wrote. It is very important discern “whether or not extra frequent monitoring of the parameters measured by the sensible rest room truly helps to enhance [patient health] outcomes,” she wrote.
Ge wrote that sooner or later, she “would like to see this expertise primarily deployed to sufferers in additional rural or distant areas,” making healthcare extra accessible. Seung-min Park expects the system to price $200 to $500.