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article imageTechnology designed to track what you eat

By Tim Sandle     Mar 23, 2018 in Health
Scientists have developed tiny tooth-mounted sensors that can track what a person eats. The aim is to use wireless real-time monitoring to increase medical understanding between diet and health.
Technologists, from Tufts University School of Engineering, have engineered miniaturized sensors designed to fit onto a tooth; the sensors measure 2 millimeters by 2 millimeters. When a sensor is positioned directly onto a tooth it can communicate wirelessly to mobile device. The type of information that can then be transmitted includes levels of glucose, salt and alcohol intake.
The long-term aim is to use the technology to enable the detection and recording of a wide range of nutrients and chemicals consumed by a person, and to help assess the physiological state of the individual. This will allow for better data to be collected for research and even to help to control a person's diet.
The complexities with the development were with making the wireless technology work and with creating a sensor that could flexibly conform and bond to the irregular surface of a tooth. Each sensor is composed of three layers. The first is a central "bioresponsive" layer that absorbs the nutrient or other chemicals to be detected,; the other two are outer layers consisting of two square-shaped gold rings. Each device functions as a miniature antenna, serving to collect and transmit waves in the radiofrequency spectrum to a mobile device.
Commenting on the development, lead researcher Fiorenzo Omenetto told Medical News Today: ""In theory we can modify the bioresponsive layer in these sensors to target other chemicals -- we are really limited only by our creativity. We have extended common RFID [radiofrequency ID] technology to a sensor package that can dynamically read and transmit information on its environment, whether it is affixed to a tooth, to skin, or any other surface."
Details of the technology have been published in the journal Advanced Materials, with the research paper titled "Functional, RF-trilayer sensors for tooth-mounted, wireless monitoring of the oral cavity and food consumption."
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