Scientists at the University at Buffalo are developing a necklace that will track your food intake by the sound you make when you're chewing it and gulping it down. No more embarrassing food journals! Just embarrassing accessories! The latest issue of IEEE Sensors Journal describes the development and testing process for AutoDietary, a device that lets you monitor what you eat by listening in on your eating process. The necklace contains a small microphone worn against the throat, so it can monitor the different crunching sounds a person makes when they chew as well as the sound the food makes when they swallow it down. The project is headed by Wenyao Xu, an assistant professor at the University at Buffalo, and the archivist of the world's first "food sound library".
The library allows the AutoDietary device to identify what their wearers are chewing and swallowing. The necklace will send the information to the user's smartphone via Bluetooth where the food intake data is stored. While the technology is relatively well refined, the identification process isn't yet perfect. A study done on 12 subjects eating apples, carrots, potato chips, cookies, peanuts and walnuts determined that AutoDietary is 85 per cent accurate in distinguishing between different foods. It obviously also can't distinguish between, for example, milk and chocolate milk. However, when the team lent the necklace out to 53 people, most of them were satisfied with AutoDietary's ability to track their food.
The researchers say they will continue expanding the library and making the device more accurate. One day, they'd like AutoDietary to identify the food being eaten and display nutritional information — allowing users to see how much sugar, fat and other substances they have taken in, and track how it is metabolised by their body. This may help not only people who don't want to painstakingly record all their food in a journal, but also people like diabetics who need to monitor their hour-to-hour blood sugar.