Smart Toilet Startup Casana Closes $14M Series A Round
The Casana vision is to offer a toilet that monitors your health may soon become a reality. The smart toilet startup recently secured $14 million in a Series A funding round led by General Catalyst and the Outsiders Fund.
Casana wants to passively collect data on key health metrics using its Heart Seat. They metrics include heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen level, and cardiac output. The device monitors these metrics for trends and insights. The company hopes to empower people with a new category of effortless, at-home technology for monitoring 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,” stated 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. 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 electrical activity of your heart. Abnormal EKG activity can be a sign of heart disease or damage. It also contains a ballistocardiogram (BCG), which tracks your heart’s mechanical activity and can detect issues like congestive heart failure. Another feature embedded in the Casana toilet seat, the photophethysmogram, measures blood oxygenation levels. It does this by detecting changes in light absorption.
An internal battery built into the toilet seat should last several years without recharging. It doesn’t need to be plugged in. Health information from the Casana toilet can be seamlessly sent to other devices using the toilet seat’s built-in WiFi and LTE capabilities. The cloud-connected device contributes to 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,” said McChord. “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 have reported tests showing the technology’s accuracy. Casana is pitching the 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 name of the company used to be Heart Health Intelligence. A researcher at the Rochester Institute of Technology developed the technology behind the company’s smart toilet seat. Casana raised a seed funding round in 2020.
Austin McChord is a seasoned entrepreneur. He founded his first company called Datto in his early 20s. Datto, a cybersecurity and data backup solutions company, recently had a $4.5 billion IPO. McChord served as CEO of Datto from its founding in 2007 until stepping down in 2018.
Casana Faces a Competitive Market for High-Tech Toilets
Some competitors of Casana 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. By analyzing people’s waste, the Toto toilet 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 is also has cameras and a machine-learning algorithm that can analyze feces for potential chronic conditions or heightened disease risk. The Stanford researchers are partnering with Izen, a Korean toilet manufacturer, to build the toilet.
A team of researchers at Duke University has similarly created a prototype toilet with cameras built inside to analyze stool. The technology observes the consistency, protein content, and presence of blood in the stool to make a health diagnosis. The toilet can also to 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 can monitor cardiovascular activity. It is unclear whether Google Health has made further progress on the smart toilet project.
Opportunities and Possible Roadblocks to Smart Toilet Adaption
Casana tries to ensure the data on your health parameters is securely transferred to other devices. But some people are uncomfortable with the concept of a smart toilet due to privacy concerns. In a survey of 300 people, over half of the sample size expressed concern with a camera-equipped toilet. Around one third of the survey participants 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 for the startup. “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,” commented Sagan.