Jun 28, 2016 | By Alec

If you’ve recently tried to lose weight or eat healthier, you doubtlessly came across numerous diet tracking apps that easily log your food intake; they might even offer the most convenient way to diet in today’s world. But what if the app knew exactly what you ate and how much you ate, without you needing to feed it information? That, in a nutshell, is what the 3D printed Diet Eyeglasses by a research team from the University of Passau in Germany is all about. Relying on sensors to detect very precise chewing activity, it knows exactly what and how much you’re eating.

This remarkable pair of 3D printed glasses was revealed at the IEEE Body Sensor Networks conference in San Francisco, and is part of the WISEglass project led by Professor Oliver Amft from the University of Passau. It is also detailed in the forthcoming paper ‘Diet eyeglasses: Recognising food chewing using EMG and smart eyeglasses,’ which will be published in the Proceedings of the International Conference on Wearable and Implantable Body Sensor.

The WISEglass project itself completely revolves around smart eyewear. “The vision behind WISEglass is to embed electronics into regular eyeglasses where the focus is on sensing and processing,” the project leaders say. “WISEglass can be used to distinguish different activities of daily life.” Monitoring your eating habits is thus just one of the many applications that could be embedded in the WISEglass –overall health monitoring, activity recognition, wireless gaming and a lot more should also become possible – but it is perhaps the most appealing.

The 3D printed prototype glasses look perfectly normal, but feature electromyography (EMG) sensors built into the frame. Touching your skin behind the ears, these flexible woven fabric electrodes detect the contractions of the Temporalis facial muscles during chewing. These sensors are tucked in behind the ear, as Amft and his team found that this provides the best possible skin contact – and therefore signal. Right now, the prototype also features a small processor and battery placed behind the ear. “While EMG is a known jaw contraction assessment in the clinical setting, we consider unobtrusive chewing monitoring using EMG as a key step towards viable dietary monitoring. Results indicate that EMG can provide highly accurate chewing detection, thus contributing to food intake timing analysis,” they say.

While slightly bulkier than an ordinary pair of glasses, the sensors certainly are powerful. In fact, studies have shown that various foods produce various muscle contractions, and these can all be differentiated. Eight test subjects wore the glasses while eating various foods, drinking water, coughing, speaking and turning their heads, and the smart glasses were more than capable of differentiating between the movements. Even the different textures of cookies, bananas, toast, carrots and candy produced different contractions, which were all distinguishable.

While right now not yet capable of distinguishing every single type of food – many foods have similar textures after all – the glasses certainly have a lot of potential. In combination with other sensors and a Bluetooth app connection, the researchers suggest these smart glasses could be used to create “personalized dietary monitoring systems.” Microphones that listen to the sound of chewing and biting, for instance, could gather additional information that could be used to find the right foods in a database. Cheating on your diet might become a whole lot more difficult in the near future.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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