Many people are trying to lose weight nowadays. They are relying on diets and fitness trackers that automatically track how many calories they have managed to burn during their exercises. On the other hand, calories intake has to be estimated and sometimes that method is not very accurate. Other times, people skip the approximation altogether. A team of researchers led by Dr. Edward Sazonov of the University of Alabama created a ear-worn monitor that could helps doctors and users alike track the nutrient intake.
The new invention was titled Automatic Ingestion Monitor (AIM). In appearance, it looks like a Bluetooth headset that wraps around the ear. It also features a camera that takes images of the user’s drinks and foods. The device is able to distinguish between the jaw movements of eating and drinking and those of talking, in order to ignore the latter. After taking the images, the monitor will be able to determine the energy and mass content of the food based on the photos and the chewing patterns.
“The number of chews is proportional to ingested mass and energy intake,” explained the researchers.
At the moment, the images taken by the Automatic Ingestion Monitor need to be examined by a nutritionist. However, in time, Dr. Edward Sazonov hopes to be able to rely on 3D analysis and a computer to fasten the process. The information given by the device can be used to determine how many calories the user consumes over a certain period of time.
“Weight gain comes from an unbalance of the energy we take in versus the energy we expend. The sensor could provide objective data, helping us better understand patterns of food intake associated with obesity and eating disorders,” the scientist explained.
The prototype has been tested and works, but the team is hoping to make it more robust and compact.
What do you think of the Automatic Ingestion Monitor? Would it help people with weight problems?