Sensing and Sensibility: “Development of Anal Position Detecting System for New-Toilet System”

Technology for the elderly grows more ambitious and, arguably, more adventurous. This paper sets a new standard:

hiroshi2011Development of Anal Position Detecting System for New-Toilet System,” Koshi Tokoro, Keisuke Fujihira, and Hiroshi Kobayashi [Department of Mechanical Engineering, Tokyo University of Science, Tokyo, Japan], paper presented at the 2013 Seventh International Conference on Sensing Technology, December 3 – 5, 2013, at Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand. (Thanks to investigator Ross Mason for bringing this to our attention.) The authors summarize what they did, and why they did it:

“Japan entered a super-aged society, and nursing care is a serious social problem. Especially, an excretion care causes physical and mental stress to both caregivers and recipients. In this study, we have been developing a new-toilet system for reducing the stress of the excretion care. The new-toilet system can capture feces and prevent odor dispersion by adhering tightly to buttocks. For attaching the device to buttocks, it is necessary to know the position of the anus. It is preferable that the device automatically moves to the anal position and adhere to the buttocks without caregiver’s help. Therefore we developed a sensing system of the anal position using the infrared camera. This paper describes the position detecting system and its estimation.”

Here’s detail from the paper:


Here’s more detail:


Their laboratory — the Koba Lab — is a hothouse of ideas and development. Among their projects: muscle suits, an artificial receptionist system, a swallowing robot, a milking machine, automated psychiatric diagnosis. And more. This graphic showcases many of them (click on the image to be whisked to a page where you can be further whisked to details of some of the projects).



They also once made a robot substitute elementary school teacher. This news video, from 2009, gives a glimpse of it: