The ‘Paparazzi Potty’ Takes Photos of Your Butt and Poop (for Science)

Photo: Getty Images / Marlene Ford
Believe it or not, researchers have been working on a smart toilet that photographs your anus, poop, and urine, and then uploads the images to the cloud for public health purposes. I am all about this ingenious invention, which I'm renaming the Paparazzi Potty™. Hear me out.

With a new paper published in the journal Nature, Stanford University researchers explain how and why they devised a smart toilet equipped with four cameras so as to get all your best angles (the aforementioned butthole, poop, and urine-stream shots). The photos of your anus are to serve as individual identifiers which, according to one of the paper's co-authors, isn't as revolutionary as it sounds. A fact I will not soon forget, apparently Salvador Dalí already knew that anal openings are as unique as fingerprints, which is why this smart toilet utilizes advanced poop analysis and "analprinting" (it's exactly what it sounds like). "The potential for using the human anus as a biometric identifier is not a new concept," writes study co-author Dr. Seung-min Park. The other photos, meanwhile, are meant to be analyzed by a doctor for signs of irritable bowel syndrome, colorectal and urologic cancers, and other diseases.

I think we can all agree that in light of the coronavirus crisis that public health is an exceedingly worthy cause to which we should all be dedicating more resources, and if those resources are literal waste to us otherwise, why not? After all, the whole idea is for this toilet to become a diagnostic tool for detecting a range of diseases, including deadly colon cancers. While I may be the only person in the history of the world who enjoyed her colonoscopy, this is preferable way to be handed a clean bill of bowel health. (Also, I am never, ever sending a sample of my feces in the mail, no matter how many times my doctors direct me to do so.)

If you share your smart toilet with others, and worry that your butthole looks too much like your spouse's, fear not. This smart toilet also features an actual fingerprint scanner on the flush lever so your partner isn't accidentally saddled with the burden of your defective poop. What's more, the toilet actually analyzes your urine to determine its white blood cell count, among other metrics, which is meant to serve as an early detection of things like kidney cancer.

As it's currently imagined, the toilet isn't meant to provide its users with daily data. Instead, the idea is that it will alert your health care professional of any unusual findings, which I assume means more so blood in your pee than green poop caused by overconsumption of black licorice, but it's not entirely clear.

Also unfortunate is the fact that this magical toilet is not yet available to the public. So far, it's only been tested on 21 individuals, who I'm assuming hold no fear of having their butthole shots hacked. For additional peace of mind, the smart toilet makers say that the photos are de-identified when they move to the cloud, and that anything sent to your health care provider is protected by the same privacy laws that protect the rest of your health care data.

While I breathlessly await the public sale of this miracle device, its creators are hard at work innovating on its first iteration. The hope is that they can create personalization, so that the toilet runs tests relevant to your individual health conditions, and also stool testing, so your doc will never ask you to post your poop again. (In the mail, that is. Instagram could be fair game.)

You can't yet buy a Paparazzi Potty™, but you can buy a bidet. And here's what you can tell about your health just by eyeing your poop the old-fashioned way.

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