The title of this story might sound you creepy as this could be another attempt to breach your privacy not even leaving your bathroom, however this attempt of Google to reach your bathroom might actually save your life.
A patent from Google highlights its ambition to put sensors in your bathroom that might reveal cardiovascular health issues, improve heart health, and alert medical professionals. The patent details how Google could use “optical sensors” placed in patients’ devices or belongings to capture data on individual’s cardiovascular function – all with the aim of motivating behavioral changes and reducing instances of heart disease.
The sensors might even be positioned (the patent’s illustrations below) in a “sensing milieu” in a patient’s bathroom.
The patent describes sensors in a bath mat, for example, being able to measure heart rate through the body’s electrical patterns.
The patent also shows a camera in the bathroom mirror, which would be able to detect things like skin color variations. The patents also show toilet seats and bath mats with embedded sensors which can measure heart rate and body electrical patterns. It also describes a non-invasive camera in the bathroom mirror that can detect skin colour variation. All this will lead to a “Smart bathroom” which would be able to provide health updates which can be analyzed by health professionals.
The company even wants to put sensors in the toilet, which would be able to sense blood pressure, and sensors in the bathtub, creating an “ultrasonic” bathtub that could perform an echo test. All of this data could be collected and eventually sent to health professionals, if that’s what the user wants.
Google’s new possible invention for at-home health tracking would:
- Monitor certain aspects of a patient’s physical appearance; and
- Track changes in appearance that relate to cardiovascular health problems.
In addition, it would integrate with other Google hardware and software — such as Android phones and Google Glass — to capture, process, and analyze as much user cardio-data as possible.
The data would be monitored for trends and shared with patients or their medical professionals.
It is to be noted however that just because there’s a patent doesn’t mean there will be a product. Patent activity of tech companies are actually kind of sneak peak of tech giants’ investment strategies particularly in R&D. Notably, Amazon has patented heart-rate detection by smartphone and Apple has patented smartphone-based health tracking. Now Google is moving deeper into medical data as well. Google is also working on other health-related projects, such as Google Lens, which could help users monitor their blood sugar levels.
In 2015, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, and Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, had invested in a startups called Nebia that makes shower heads which can reduce the amount of water used by up to 70%.
In 2016, Google had filed a patent for the Tearable screen technology, which facilitates tearing of a display screen, cut off and used independently.
Years back, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a private foundation founded by Bill Gates and his wife in year 2000 has funded a project four-years back which is called – “Nano Membrane Toilet” or Water-less Toilet which will be able to treat human waste on-site without external energy or water.