Researchers at the University of Buffalo have developed a necklace that could detect what the wearer by listening to the sound of the wearer chewing.
Led by computer scientist Wenyao Xu, the device called AutoDietary, has a small microphone on the back that records the sound of people eating food and then sends that information to a connected smartphone via Bluetooth. From there, the sound is uploaded to the cloud where it is compared against a database of chewing and swallowing sounds for different foods, including cookies, peanuts, and apples.
"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," Xu said in a statement.
Thus far, 12 people tested AutoDietary and the findings of this small study were published last month in IEEE Sensors Journal. Each participant was given water and different foods such as apples, carrots, potato chips, cookies, peanuts and walnuts, to eat. The system was able to identify the correct food 85 percent of the time.
The problem is to distinguish between very similar foods, for example corn flakes and frosted flakes, but Xu added that he is working on integrating a biosensor into the system that would be able to better track the nutritional data of food.
Once this sort of device is available to the general public, it could help people with a number of conditions including diabetes, obesity, bowel disorders.
That being said, this isn't the first food detecting product we've seen. In 2014, researchers toyed with the idea to collect information based on the wearer's chewing and pair that information with an input from a camera. This device, called Automatic Ingestion Monitor (AIM), was designed to be fitted around the user's ear to monitor vibrations from jaw movement. Needless to say, that product has yet to hit the market.