In news out of Steeler Nation, University of Pittsburgh researchers led by Mingui Sun, professor of neurosurgery and electrical and computer engineering, have developed a wearable multi-sensor device that automatically tracks a person’s activities, including food intake, shopping patterns, and activity levels.
It encompasses a camera, accelerometer, and GPS and connects to a computer for analyzing the data. It’s currently being studied in a pilot trial to see whether it can help to accurately assess caloric intake and activity levels.
From a Pitt press release:
The eButton’s reporting extends even further than food and exercise: It can determine the amount of time wearers spend watching TV or sitting in front of a computer screen and how much time they spend outdoors. It tracks where food is bought, how meals are prepared, which restaurants are visited, and what items are ordered. The device analyzes how long the wearer spends eating, what foods and beverages are consumed, and how the wearer interacts with family or friends at the dining table. According to Sun, all of these factors determine participants’ caloric intake and expenditure.
“This multidimensional approach looks at the overall health of eButton wearers, which is more important than just food and exercise alone,” said Sun. “We have to take into account how people live, not only what they eat or how they exercise at the gym.”
Retrieving the results of eButton is convenient, added Sun, who says it’s as easy as transferring pictures from a digital camera onto a computer. To protect participants’ privacy, the data are coded so they cannot be read until scanned by a computer to block human faces.