People who suffer from gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome are number two when it comes to describing the characteristics of their own poop.
What’s new: The smartphone app Dieta helps patients to keep gastrointestinal illnesses in check by tracking their own behaviors and symptoms. It includes a computer vision model that recognizes medically salient characteristics of excrement as accurately as doctors and better than most patients, a recent study found.
How it works: The app enables patients to log symptoms such as nausea, constipation, and abdominal pain; behaviors like exercise, sleep, and meals; treatments including medications, supplements, and diet; and feelings of illness or wellbeing. It also helps patients experiment on themselves, recommending lifestyle changes and treatments and enabling patients to forward the results to caregivers. A computer vision model classifies feces according to characteristics that are useful in diagnosis.

  • Patients use the app to take a picture of their stool. The model classifies the excreta in five aspects: size, consistency, fragmentation, indistinct edges, and type according to the Bristol Stool Scale.
  • To train the model, the developers collected and classified 68,000 photos submitted by users including the startup’s founder.
  • A clinical version lets patients chat with caregivers and provides a location tracker that flags unplanned bathroom visits (for instance, pulling off a freeway to attend to an urgent matter).

Behind the news: Machine learning engineers have trained other models to peer into the toilet.

  • Moxie, a smartphone app that debuted in 2020, similarly classifies poop according to the Bristol Stool Scale. A 2020 review by Wired found that it mistook a photo of the reviewer’s face for a bowel movement.
  • In 2020, researchers from Duke and Stanford developed the Precision Health Toilet. The device uses a suite of sensors to evaluate waste for factors like consistency and blood content (a risk factor for cancer and other ailments).

Why it matters: Roughly 40 percent of adults worldwide may suffer from gastrointestinal conditions, according to a 2021 study. Tracking bowel movements helps to diagnose these conditions earlier and more accurately.
We’re thinking: We’re grateful that someone — other than us — builds models that classify the Bristol Stool Scale.


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