We know Google wants a piece of the ever-growing healthcare pie, and the company's latest patent filing shows how the search giant wants to turn our bathrooms into diagnostic areas.
The patent describes the usage of "optical sensors" placed in patients' devices or belongings to capture data on individual's cardiovascular function, with the idea to motivate behavioral changes and reduce instances of heart disease.
The sensors might even be positioned, per the patent's illustrations, in a "sensing milieu" in a patient's bathroom.
The design depicts at-home health tracking setup that would monitor certain aspects of a patient's physical appearance, and track changes in appearance that relate to cardiovascular health problems.
For instance, the system would track skin color changes that can reflect certain blood flow dynamics ("hemodynamics") which are indicative of cardiovascular health. Or they may indicate problems with the organs under the skin on certain parts of the body.
The sensors' assessments would also be used to track vitals like heart rate and respiration rate.
The system would also integrate with other Google hardware and software — including Android phones and Google Glass — to capture, process, and analyze as much user cardio data as possible.
From there, that data would be presented to the user who in turn could share it with its physician.
All this, if implemented, would create a tool for managing health outcomes and lessening disease risks.
Google's patent notes that heart disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, despite being highly preventable. This, in part, is due to a lack of feedback on how users' efforts improve their health.
In that sense, monitoring and measuring heart health on an ongoing basis can help motivate patients. But since "current [at-home] methods for measuring heart health can be inconvenient, stressful, and expensive," Google envisions a better way.