This Toilet Wants to Record Ever Sound You Make on It
Like any orchestration, the symphony of sounds you make in the bathroom while making number two is hardly random and out-of-synch with everything else taking place around it. In fact, it’s the siren song of your health, according to Maia Gatlin, an engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and her recent paper, “The Feces Thesis: Using Machine Learning to Detect Diarrhea.”
For the good of everyone around you, Gatlin argues that such toilet-based groaning and grunting shouldn’t have a solitary audience. Instead, it should be recorded via small toilet sensors for all to hear — or at least for public health officials (and/or your physician) to hear. That way they can better detect the spread of harmful bacterial disease outbreaks like cholera, which affects millions of people worldwide, and accounts for 150,000 deaths annually, per the CDC.
In order to provide such shitty advice, Gatlin and her colleagues tested audio data they found online of people taking different kinds of bowel movements, which, of course, the internet has a buttload of. The device then translated these noises into a spectrogram, which is like a heat map of a sound. For the record, sonically speaking, urine has a more consistent tone, defecation typically has a singular tone and diarrhea has a tone as random as its consistency.
Gatlin fed this imagery into a machine-learning algorithm that decoded diarrhea and non-diarrhea noises with up to 98.1 percent accuracy. To be extra certain about things, the audio was tested with background noise to ensure that it would still be effective when the guy one stall over ate something nasty, too. “The hope is that this sensor, which is small in footprint and noninvasive in approach, could be deployed to areas where cholera outbreaks are a persistent risk,” Gatlin said in a press release. “The sensor could also be used in disaster zones (where water contamination leads to spread of waterborne pathogens), or even in nursing/hospice care facilities to automatically monitor bowel movements of patients.”
Like the Squatty Potty before it, Gatlin hopes that the “diarrhea detector” will eventually be available for at-home use: “Perhaps someday, our algorithm can be used with existing in-home smart devices to monitor one’s own bowel movements and health.”
Because your bathroom serenade might be much more of a cry for help than it is the sweet sounds of relief.