An employee of Japan's housing company Daiwa House demonstrates the company's latest model, called "Intelligence Toilet", manufactured by Toto, at Daiwa House show room in Tokyo. [Agencies]
In Japan, the global leader in high-tech toilet design, the latest restroom marvel should come with a health warning for hypochondriacs-- it doubles as a medical lab that can really spoil your day.
Japanese toilets have long and famously dominated the world of bathroom hygiene with their array of functions, from posteriorshower jets to perfume bursts and noise-masking audio effects for the easily-embarrassed.
The latest "intelligent" model, manufactured by market leader Toto, goes a step further and isn't for the faint-hearted: it offers its users an instant health check-up every time they answer the call of nature.
Designed for the housing company Daiwa House with Japan's growing army of elderly in mind, it provides urine analysis, takes the user's blood pressure and body temperature, and measures their weight with a built-in floor scale.
"Our chairman had the idea when he was at a hospital and saw people waiting for health checks. He thought it would be better if they could do the health tests at home," says Akiho Suzuki, an architect at Daiwa House.
Toto's engineers developed a receptacle inside the basin to collect the urine for sugar content and temperature checks, and an armband to monitor blood pressure. The readout is displayed on a wall-mounted computer screen.
"With the current model, your data is sent automatically to your personal computer, and then you can email it to your doctor," said Suzuki.
"In the next generation model, the data will be sent automatically to family members or doctors via the Internet," she said.
The electronic marvel, called the "Intelligence Toilet", is capable of storing the data of up to five different people and retails for 350,000 to 500,000 yen (about 4,100 to 5,850 dollars) in Japan, she said.
"For now our customers are essentially middle-aged and senior people. But we hope the young generation will also become more health-conscious."
The model is the latest advance in a string of sophisticated toilets, known as "washlets" in Japan, which have become ubiquitousin recent decades.