The key to heart happiness might be found sitting on a toilet

8 Feb 2019

Image: © Africa Studio/

This week in IoT, researchers reveal a toilet seat that can monitor your heart, while Alphabet reveals shoes that monitor your movements.

Earlier this week in the internet of things (IoT) space, Irish chipmaker Decawave revealed its next generation of ultra-wideband (UWB) semiconductor chips.

The new chipsets will be the world’s first to support the new IEEE 802.15.4z (4z) standard, currently in the final stages of development. Key among the applications enabled by the 4z standard are highly secure mobile financial and access transactions, and the ability to use precise location to combat malicious attacks that enable the hacking of wireless payments and the theft of modern vehicles.

Researchers place heart tracker in toilet seat

With people being quite inconsistent in taking their medication, researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in the US have revealed a new way of tracking a patient’s heart with very little effort.

In a piece for IEEE Spectrum, the team showcased a toilet seat with built-in sensors that can monitor a person’s blood pressure, blood oxygen levels and other heart data as accurately as hospital-grade equipment. Once gathered, the toilet seat can then send the data to the cloud for the patient’s physician to monitor.

Over time, it will create a clear picture of the user’s heart health. Even if a person doesn’t get a good reading one time, the researchers stress it will read their vitals eventually.

“We wanted something that can work for everybody, without any change in behaviour or habit required,” said the study’s co-author, Nicholas Conn.

Alphabet’s Verily working on shoes that track your health

Staying in the area of health monitoring, tech behemoth Alphabet – through its life sciences division, Verily – is reportedly looking for manufacturing partners for a new shoe that can track a person’s weight and movement, among other things.

According to CNBC, Verily has shown off prototypes of the shoe, but is now hoping a major brand manufacturer can get on board and incorporate the technology into a commercial shoe.

The shoe could one day monitor sudden weight gain, alerting the user that the body retaining fluid is a sign of congestive heart failure. It could also alert a next-of-kin if a fall is detected.

While this has been revealed by sources familiar with the project, Verily has yet to officially comment on the move.

UK to take legal leap for advantage in autonomous car testing

The UK’s department for transport has issued new guidelines for the testing of autonomous cars on its roads, including one factor that gives a serious advantage to any UK-based companies looking to test ahead of the US.

The key point taken from the published guidelines includes that “during trials, it is a legal requirement that there is a safety driver or safety operator ready and able to override the vehicle, though not necessarily within the vehicle”. This means that a car devoid of passengers can legally drive on UK roads, but would still need a chaser car with a technician able to remotely control what the lead car is doing.

The department also challenges developers to find ways for them to make sure the cars are not a distraction on the road, preventing other drivers from potentially causing an accident. “This may be particularly noticeable and distracting where the vehicle is being remotely controlled, and trialling organisations should consider the potential negative impact on other road users,” the document said.

Arduino IoT Cloud claims to ‘democratise’ IoT development

Arduino, the major open source hardware and software platform, announced the introduction of IoT Cloud as part of its professional IoT strategy. Targeted at developers, system integrators and maker hobbyists, the Arduino IoT Cloud is a simplified platform that enables users to develop and manage IoT applications to solve real-life problems in a business environment or in everyday life.

“Suppose we want to build an IoT greenhouse: the goal is to control this greenhouse remotely, ie to be able to turn on and off the lights, start the irrigation system, and read and adjust the temperature inside the greenhouse, all without the need for human intervention,” explained Massimo Banzi, CTO and co-founder of Arduino.

“The complete system can be automated and controlled using an Arduino MKR Wi-Fi 1010 board along with the Arduino IoT Cloud.”

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic