Passive tracking of human excreta (urine and stool)


I’m a bit new to this forum, but I’ve been heavily interested in QS topics from a personal and research perspective for a long-time and really love this community.

About me: I’m a rising senior studying Computational Biology at Carnegie Mellon University, and currently conduct research full-time on a rich dataset collected from Fitbits and phone usage in an undergraduate student population.

For the last couple of months, the thought of developing a toilet which could passively track a variety of measures from urine and stool has been nagging at me, and the publication of this article has encouraged me to finally do something about it.

Right now, there are a few startups in this space such as Heart Health Intelligence and Toi Labs, but nobody to my knowledge is seriously working on a project to see how far we can push the analytics from human excreta. With the constraints of commercialization aside, how much data can we glean from human waste in a fully automated fashion?

Can we capture microbiome data in a purely automated fashion for self-tracking applications? Can we predict outbreaks before they happen? The possibilities are truly endless.

A passion project of mine is to write up a detailed report and roadmap on how this sort of detailed system could be made a reality, but I would love to collaborate on this with 1-2 other people who are passionate about self-tracking and can envision how this could be a game changer for both QS and clinical medicine.

If this sounds of interest to you, please let me know! My email is, but you can also just reply below :slight_smile:

Thank you!

I think you will definitely find interest and curiosity about this topic here.

I assume you’ve seen this paper?

Wow! I hadn’t! That’s really cool - thank you for sharing :slight_smile:

Hi Stephen,

Very interesting topic, commercially also valuable I would say. Some thoughts:
-the University of Delft (NL) is collecting urine from toilets in the university, if Im corect, with the goal to reuse some of the substances. The urine is collected separate from the stool.
-modern toilets are so designed that its is more difficult to see the excreta, (they go in the water, instead of laying), this makes spotting health problems which can be seen in the excreta much more difficult.
-And what about animals? Would it be possible to analyse and/or reuse their excreta too? For example the ammoniac from cow urine? Make urea out of it for skin products Etc.

Good luck with your idea!
Greetings, Froukje (NL)

I’m glad you’re looking at working on this. I’ve thought about how valuable a smart toilet could be for awhile and have been wanting someone to build one. If you want a beta tester lemme know! :slight_smile:

Update! I’m now working at a startup developing such a toilet. If you’re interested in staying updated with our progress or want to contribute as a beta tester, you can sign up for our mailing list/waitlist here:

Additionally, if this is something you’re excited about, we’re always looking to work and connect with people passionate about our mission. Feel free to email me at to get in touch.


Glad to see you are working on this. When I received my first bill from a urology practice and saw what they charged for “uroflowmetry” — basically, for 60 seconds use of a device consisting of a clock, scale, and paper cup — I figured somebody would take this on eventually.

So how much is this device going to cost? What chemicals does the urinalysis measure?

One measure of proper hydration is the color of your urine.
I have been waiting for someone to build an iPhone adapter and app that would do a color spectrum analysis of a urine sample using your iPhone camera and light source. Presumably with disposable sample cups.

I’ve experimented to prototype such a machine vision analysis of photos of urine. It turned out that consistent lighting (such as an LED light bar) and probably color calibration card, plus consistent relative position of lighting, container, and camera are important.

You probably want a tripod or stand for the camera, which is ideally a separate device from your primary phone with a manual but hands-free trigger.

If someone is photographing their urine, I’d guess they’d want to go farther and measure volume – could be done by photographing translucent containers or weighing them – and probably some lab work like pH or colorimetric tests as well as their water intake including diet.

But what medical condition(s) would this arduous tracking be helpful to manage and how? In my opinion, those questions need answers to justify the monetary expense of either smart toliets or time/attention expense of low-tech analysis of photographs, instead of a simpler solution like a urine color chart.

Alas, it appears that the state of the art in uroflowmetry has not caught up with 47 year old technology. When I was in physics grad school in the late 70s, we all snickered abut this article from Physics Today:

The Urinary Drop Spectrometer

I thought I read something years ago about this tech being included in high end Japanese toilets. It is hard to see American consumers buying high-tech toilets in volume when they ignore existing bidet attachments for $30.