Image source: Fitbit

Food tracking wearable listens to what you eat

Now, even the sounds that you make while biting, grinding and swallowing could provide a clue to your caloric intake with the development of a new wearable technology called Auto Dietary. Apparently, the high-tech necklace that is currently under development can track your calorie intake by ‘listening’ to sounds of different foods as you chew them.

Food tracking wearable listens to what you eat
A prototype of the Autodietary food monitoring necklace (Credit: University at Buffalo).

Here is how it works. The necklace is designed to be worn around the neck. As food is swallowed, the built in tiny high-fidelity microphone records the sounds and sends them via Bluetooth to your smartphone which then analyses the data. To that extent, researchers from the University of Buffalo in the US and Northeastern Univeristy in China are creating a library that catalogues the unique sounds that foods make as we chew them. The device will also determine how healthy the food is and then gently inform you if its time to cut down on junk food and increase your intake of fruits and vegetables.

“There is no shortage of wearable devices that tell us how many calories we burn, but creating a device that reliably measures caloric intake isn’t so easy,” said Wenyao Xu, assistant professor at UB.

The device has already been tested on 12 test subjects, ages 13 to 49. According to the study, they were given water and six types of food – apples, carrots, potato chips, cookies, peanuts and walnuts. Results, published in IEEE Sensors Journal, state that the wearable was successful in identifying the correct food and drink 85% of the time.

“Each food, as it’s chewed, has its own voice,” said Xu, adding that device could someday help people suffering from diabetes, obesity, bowel disorders and other ailments by enabling them to better monitor their food intake and, thus, improve how they manage their conditions.

Xu plans to refine and expand on the algorithms and library of sounds to improve AutoDietary’s ability to recognise what is being eaten.

However, there are limits to this technology. For example, the necklace cannot distinguish between similar foods. It also can not distinguish the ingredients of complex food items. To address these limitations, Xu is planning a biomonitoring device which would complement AutoDietary.

Over time, the researchers are hoping to enable the device to be much more accurate. If they are successful, keeping an eye on what you eat may be about to become much easier.

Ivan Jovin

Ivan has been a tech journalist for over 7 years now, covering all kinds of technology issues. He is the guy who gets to dive deep into the latest wearable tech news.

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