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IoT: The Internet of Toilets?!

May 21, 2014 Walt Paley

I recently read a humorous but forward-thinking post on Wired, espousing the potential use cases for an internet-connected toilet, complete with various sensors and capabilities.  The writer, Giles Crouch, nailed a few awesome scenarios, such as pregnancy detection, stool analysis, and hangover cures.  Yes, I'm a sucker for technology and I already want an iToilet, Giles... but only if they build it with security in mind.  The alternative brings to mind the 1937 Donald Duck cartoon, 'Modern Inventions'.  You know how it ends... one disaster after another.

YourHatSir

For example, early pregnancy detection is brilliant!  Until you leave your pregnant wife home while on a business trip, and some criminal genius figures out that he can scan the neighborhood for homes in which the only urine collected belongs to a pregnant woman.  That would be valuable information for someone with ill intentions and should be encrypted and guarded like your better half herself.  [Note: The same hormone levels could indicate testicular cancer in a man as well, but it would be a statistical long shot.  Not enough to discourage a criminal from playing the odds.]

The automatic stool sample is an excellent feature.  It's the hypochondriac's dream.  Every sample submitted would be analyzed and advisories would be offered regularly.  Well, as regularly as the patient, at least.  The rate of car accidents may rise, as Mr. John Doe rushes home at lunchtime to make sure his contribution wouldn't be wasted on the traditional 'dumb' toilet at the office.  But potentially more dangerous, when humans take medical advice from a machine, you better be sure that the machine can't be hacked.

"Mr. Doe, your sample shows a few deficiencies.  Please drink one quart of Draino to rebalance your system."
Hey, if my iToilet told me, it must be accurate.  Draino... whodathunkit.
That's a mistake you can't make twice.

Further, if that smart toilet is connected to both your calendar and your doctor's appointment book, just imagine the sh!t show (pun intended) if this was intercepted in plain text by a malicious third party.  You might spend all day in the waiting room of a doctor that does not have you on the calendar, while your house is raided because your door lock app was compromised as well.

Ah, yes.  The future holds a great deal of creature comforts in automation... if we can just get the security dialed in first.

Now without further ado (or toilet jokes), here's the one and only Donald Duck in 'Modern Inventions'.  Cheers!

 

Walt Paley

Walt Paley

Walter Paley is the VP of Communications for SafeLogic. He is responsible for strategy, content, marketing, and outreach. Walt has worked with a series of start-ups and companies in growth stages, including Nukona (acquired by Symantec), Qubole, Bitzer Mobile (acquired by Oracle), and TigerText, among others. An Alumnus of the psychology program at UC San Diego, Walt lives in Southern California with his wife, kids, and their black lab, Echo.

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