Imagine knowing your personalized health needs simply by going about your daily life. Imagine a world where important health information is leveraged, instead of flushed down the toilet.
The Duke Smart Toilet Lab is dedicated to the opportunities that human excreta offer to improve public health and to empower people to manage their own wellness. Urine and feces are data-rich and readily available specimens that are underutilized in part because of our aversion to collecting them. We believe that these barriers can be overcome by using the toilet itself as an alternative specimen collection device. We develop enabling technologies for capturing, sampling and analyzing excreta for critical health data, thereby unlocking the potential for improving individual and community health.
Current research focuses on three key areas:
- The sampling toilet – designing a hands-free, flush-and-forget technology that collects and packages human excreta for individual analysis;
- Enabling technologies for automated tracking of bowel movement characteristics;
- Pathogen surveillance at the building scale - developing solutions to enable rapid detection of and response to disease outbreaks.
These efforts leverage our team’s expertise and engineering experience in onsite waste treatment technologies, global sanitation and sensors, as well as the capabilities at the forefront of biomarker discovery, clinical diagnostics and entrepreneurship across Duke University. Ultimately, we envision an integrated distributed network of modular smart toilets providing data that will optimize health and disease prevention strategies at the individual level, and manage communicable and non-communicable disease at the population level.