San Francisco (CNN) – Two companies are wanting your poop photos. For scientific reasons, of course.
No, really. Auggi, a gut-health startup that’s building an app for people to track gastrointestinal issues, and Seed Health, which works on applying microbes to human health and sells probiotics — are soliciting poop photos from anyone who wants to send them.
The companies began collecting photos under a campaign they call “Give a S–t” (you can imagine what the dashes stand for) with the goal of creating the first known data set of human poop images.
The companies hope to collect 100,000 photos to build AI for research into gut-related diseases. They also aim to help people with such health conditions more easily track their own bowel movements.
“We like to say it’s basically a data dump that gets flushed away each day that could really inform science,” Seed cofounder and co-CEO Ara Katz told CNN Business.
The companies hope that the data they collect will be able to help people with a common condition, irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.
Auggi hopes to use the photos people send in to build an app. The app would help people with chronic gut problems automatically track their bowel movements.
The app with this feature is expected to be made available to the public by the first quarter of 2020.
Auggi and Seed also plan to make the data set of fecal photos available to researchers for studies.
Auggi has already created a proof-of-concept data set with 36,000 pictures of faux feces made of blue Play-Doh. The color was chosen so that they would not “scare the people in the lab.”
The Play-Doh poop photos were used to train AI to recognize consistency according to the Bristol scale. The AI was able to do this correctly essentially 100% of the time, probably in part because the Play-Doh could be molded precisely by its makers.
You can submit your own poop pictures to the data set online. You can even enter your email address to have a reminder sent to you in the next few days.
The companies expect that people may just volunteer a photo from one poop, but they are happy to accept photos of subsequent specimens, too.