Acceptance challenges of smart toilet seats require focused attention, FIU Business study reveals.

| By

Older adults are getting savvier about smart toilet seats, but their acceptance still faces challenges. To foster their widespread adoption, it’s critical to highlight the benefits smart toilet seats provide and simultaneously address risks and concerns, FIU Business research found.

Smart toilet seats are fitted with scanners that can track changes in bowel and bladder patterns, data is analyzed using artificial intelligence (AI) and if abnormalities are detected, the system sends an alert to health care providers’ systems, connected via the internet of things (IoT) technology.

Forthcoming in the journal JMIR mHealth and uHealth, the research examined older adults’ opinion and knowledge of smart toilet seats and their attitudes toward using them in their daily lives. It identified challenges older adults may encounter when using smart toilet seats.

“Smart toilet seats generate valuable insight from body’s waste and at the end of the day you’re doing it for prevention,” said Pouyan Esmaeil Zadeh, associate professor of information systems and business analytics at FIU Business, who conducted the research. “It’s vital to demonstrate its value in a manner that resonates with older people.”

Momentum for age tech devices, apps and services is driven by efforts to assist seniors in maintaining their independence, improving their quality of life and addressing health and wellness issues.

Zadeh’s research focused on toilet seats that track a person’s urine and stool, analyzing the color, frequency, volume, and concentration. The toilet seat’s technology can detect issues including gastrointestinal problems, constipation, dehydration, urinary tract infections and blood in the stool. “It can spot trends, specific changes that happen and flag health issues.”

“Lots of people ignore unexpected changes in their bodies and they don’t share it, or don’t want to make an appointment because of mobility limitations, cost or lack of time,” said Zadeh. “If you have something like this technology you can detect errors early, increase the speed of treatment, and reduce costs.”

The study consisted of a web-based survey of 174 U.S.-based individuals aged 65-plus who voluntarily participated. It was performed in January 2023. One section of the survey focused on familiarity with AI and smart devices and four questions zeroed in on the smart toilet seat itself:

  • perceived benefits and advantages
  • perceived concerns and risks
  • overall opinions
  • willingness to use

Among the survey respondents, 83.9% exhibited a positive attitude toward the technology, whereas 16.1% held negative views. As for their willingness to use a smart toilet seat, 64.9% of the respondents indicated they were willing to use it, 28.2% considered future use and 6.9% were not inclined to use it.

While the results, Zadeh noted, were generally positive there is still a lack of awareness of the product and the technology. “When you ask what a smart toilet seat is, 99% of people can’t guess its key function,” he added.

Challenges include informing consumers about the advantages a smart toilet seat delivers and overcoming trust issues. Some survey respondents indicated they would feel embarrassed about using the smart toilet seat or stereotyped by others. They also expressed privacy concerns regarding who will see the data and its security.

“Addressing this acceptance challenge is vital for the broader adoption and success of such innovations in older adults’ health care,” said Zadeh. “You need to highlight these concerns and explain how to address them.”