Smart Toilet Startup Casana Closes $14M Series A Round

Photo by Marc Schaefer on Unsplash

The Casana vision to offer a toilet that monitors your health may soon become a reality. The smart toilet startup raised $14 million in a Series A funding round. General Catalyst and the Outsiders Fund led the round.

Casana’s smart toilet collects data on key health metrics using its Heart Seat. This includes heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen level, and cardiac output. The device monitors these metrics for trends and insights. The company’s goal is to empower people with effortless, at-home technology that monitors vital health information.

“Our goal is to be able to monitor a patient’s health more naturally at home, without interruption of their daily routine,” states Casana CEO Austin McChord. “The toilet seat is not a tech gadget. Unlike a wearable device, you can’t take it off, forget to use it, or mess it up.” He continues, “If we do our job right, we are invisible unless their health status needs attention.”

How the Casana Heart Seat Works

The toilet seat contains an electrocardiogram (EKG) to monitor the heart’s electrical activity.  Abnormal EKG activity can be a sign of heart disease or damage. Plus, it contains a ballistocardiogram (BCG). This tracks your heart’s mechanical activity, so it detects issues like congestive heart failure. Another feature is a photophethysmogram. This detects changes in light absorption, which measures blood oxygenation levels.

Casana Photophethysmogram
Photophethysmogram – Image credit Kirk Shelley & Stephen Linder via Wikipedia Commons

Its internal battery lasts several years without recharging. Plus, it doesn’t need to be plugged in. As a result, health information can be seamlessly sent to other devices using the toilet seat’s built-in WiFi and LTE capabilities. Moreover, the cloud-connected device ensures a user-friendly customer experience.

“We believe improving adherence with in-home heart health monitoring devices will help promote the accelerated adoption of at-home health,” says McChord. He adds, “Many devices require patient and/or caregiver intervention and are frequently plagued by user error.”

The startup is pursuing FDA clearance. Multiple peer-reviewed research studies prove the technology’s accuracy. Casana pitches Heart Seat as clinical grade technology for heart disease management.

Casana’s Founder is No Stranger to Successful Startups

Austin McChord founded Casana in Rochester, New York. The company was first named Heart Health Intelligence. A researcher at the Rochester Institute of Technology developed the technology behind the smart toilet seat. Casana raised a seed funding round in 2020.

Austin McChord is a seasoned entrepreneur. He founded his first company in his early 20s. Datto is a cybersecurity and data backup solutions company with a $4.5 billion IPO. McChord was CEO of Datto from its founding in 2007 through 2018.

Casana Faces a Competitive Market for High-Tech Toilets

Some competitors in the smart toilet market are moving beyond high-tech toilet seats. Toto is a Japanese-based company and the world’s largest toilet manufacturer. It is creating a toilet that can measure fecal and urine samples. The Toto toilet analyzes people’s waste so it can provide eating recommendations to improve nutrition and flag potential health concerns.

Researchers at Stanford School of Medicine created a toilet that can analyze the flow, color, and volume of urine to detect health conditions. The toilet also has cameras and a machine-learning algorithm. The toilet analyzes feces for potential chronic conditions or heightened disease risk. Researchers are partnering with Izen, a Korean toilet manufacturer, to build the toilet.

A team of researchers at Duke University created a prototype toilet. There are cameras built inside that analyze stool. The technology observes the consistency, protein content, and presence of blood in the stool so it can make a health diagnosis. Plus, the toilet can extract a small stool sample that can be sent to a lab for further analysis.

Google LLC obtained a patent in 2015 for a smart toilet. The toilet monitors cardiovascular activity. However, it is unclear whether Google Health has made progress on their smart toilet project.

Opportunities and Possible Roadblocks to Smart Toilet Adaption

Casana tries to ensure the data they collect is transferred securely to other devices. However, some people are uncomfortable with the concept. They have privacy concerns. In a survey of 300 people, over half the sample size expressed concern with a camera-equipped toilet. In addition, around one third expressed discomfort with the collection of health data by a toilet.

Paul Sagan, a Casana board member and Senior Advisor at the venture capital firm General Catalyst, sees a promising road ahead. He says, “The next health revolution will bring sensors into everyday objects, and Casana is doing groundbreaking work creating a new category of effortless, in-home heart health monitoring, using connected sensors.”