University of Alabama taking food pics to next level

Image courtesy of Automatic Ingestion Monitor

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — An Alabama researcher is developing a high-tech diet tracker that will add to the trend of people slapping on wearables and firing up phone apps for their health.

Edward Sazonov, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Alabama, already has a prototype of a sensor worn around the ear that would automatically track diet, giving medical professionals and consumers accurate information that can be missed with self-reporting.

“Weight gain comes from an unbalance of the energy we take in versus the energy we expend,” Sazonov said. “We can estimate diet and nutrient intake, but the primary method is self-reporting. The sensor could provide objective data, helping us better understand patterns of food intake associated with obesity and eating disorders.”

Sazonov is the lead researcher on a $1.8 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Health to test the practical accuracy of the wearable sensor in tracking diet. Already proven viable, the device will be updated, further miniaturized and validated in a more formal experiments with users.

The Automatic Ingestion Monitor, or AIM, sensor feels vibrations from movement in the jaw during food intake, and the device is programmed to filter out jaw motions, such as talking, that are not coming from drinking or eating. Estimates of energy intake would be taken from automatically taken pictures of food or drink.

The information provided by AIM could be used to improve behavioral weight loss strategies or to develop new kinds of weight-loss interventions. It’s likely the technology’s first application would be as a medical device, but Sazonov said it’s possible it could become a consumer device that would eliminate the need for health-conscious people to keep a record of their diet.

Source: UA News

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John Parker

John Parker is an award-winning writer whose career has led him to telling tales in locales as diverse as Oklahoma, St. Kitts-Nevis (a great place to vacation!) in the West Indies and the beautiful mountains, forests and innovation-rich environment of greater Seattle. He ...

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