Big Brother is watching loo: Fears over ‘smart’ lavatory that can test users for drugs, pregnancy and urine problems
- Scientists at Cambridge University are developing a loo that analyses urine
- The loo will use nano technology to track chemical and hormonal changes
- It can transmit the results of its tests to a mobile phone or laptop in minutes
- They could show if the person is depressed, pregnant, a smoker or using drugs
Spending a penny could become rather revealing after the invention of an ‘intelligent’ lavatory that could alert parents if their children are taking drugs, or employers if their staff have had a boozy lunch.
Scientists at Cambridge University are developing a loo that analyses urine by using revolutionary nano technology to track chemical and hormonal changes.
After it is used, the loo can – within minutes – transmit the results of its tests to a mobile phone or laptop, which could show if the person is depressed, pregnant, a smoker or using alcohol or drugs.
Scientists at Cambridge University are developing a loo that analyses urine by using revolutionary nano technology to track chemical and hormonal changes. Pictured, what the loo app could look like
The unit’s developers will this week unveil a prototype at the Royal Society’s Summer Science exhibition in London.
But amid concerns about the ‘Big Brother’ use of personal information, they will also discuss the ethics of the toilet and the potential of its data being shared.
That debate will include a survey asking the public for their views on a range of imagined scenarios.
One in five toddlers can unlock tablets or smartphone as…
Great news, kids! There’s a broccoli shortage – and growers…
Share this article
One of these is a gossip magazine revealing that Prince Harry’s wife Meghan is pregnant after she unwittingly uses a loo fitted with the device during an official foreign visit.
Another scenario imagines a teenager recently back from a riotous music festival trying to stop data showing her heavy alcohol intake being automatically sent to her parents.
A survey will ask the public for their views on a range of imagined scenarios. One of these is a gossip magazine revealing that Prince Harry’s wife Meghan (pictured on their wedding day) is pregnant
The intelligent loo – developed by the NanoPhotonics Centre and the Melville Laboratory for Polymer Synthesis and showcased by the EPSRC NanoDTC centre at Cambridge – works by funnelling urine through a small device containing gold or silver nano-particles, each a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair.
Tiny molecules from the urine are trapped in microscopic gaps between the particles, allowing them to be vibrated and analysed by laser beams.
Jeremy Baumberg, professor of nano science at Cambridge and director of the NanoPhotonics Centre, accepted that the intelligent loo – expected to be priced at about £1,000 – could be surreptitiously installed by companies to check on their employees or by spouses to spy on their partner’s drinking or drug habits.
But he said the potential benefits were enormous, with people able to better monitor their own health and spot mental or physical issues earlier, potentially saving the NHS a fortune.
He suggested that data from the tests could also be sent to GPs so they could adapt the dosage of medicines.
‘We’re testing public opinion because we are well aware of the sensitivities of private medical data after the recent furore over the use of personal information by commercial companies,’ he said.
‘But the potential benefits of this new technology in preventing illness and saving the NHS millions of pounds is immense.’
Source: Read Full Article