A small tooth-mounted sensor can track what you eat

A small tooth-mounted sensor can track what you eat

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Sensor technology is being advanced day by day and is an important part of our daily life. Recently, scientists got a major breakthrough in sensor technology, developing a sensor that can track what you eat. This is a small wearable device that can be mounted on the tooth, and go unnoticed by people, can monitor you about what you eat drink or smoke.

Monitoring in real time what happens in and around our bodies can be invaluable in the context of health care or clinical studies, but not so easy to do. That could soon change thanks to new, miniaturized sensors developed by researchers at the Tufts University School of Engineering that, when mounted directly on a tooth and communicating wirelessly with a mobile device, can transmit information on glucose, salt and alcohol intake.

The device could give doctors real-time alerts on patients based on actual chemical intake. This means that rather than wait for an emergency when it’s often too late, they could respond before there’s a problem.

Previous wearable devices for monitoring dietary intake suffered from limitations such as requiring the use of a mouth guard, bulky wiring, or necessitating frequent replacement as the sensors rapidly degraded. Tufts engineers sought a more adaptable technology and developed a sensor with a mere 2mm x 2mm footprint that can flexibly conform and bond to the irregular surface of a tooth. In a similar fashion to the way a toll is collected on a highway, the sensors transmit their data wirelessly in response to an incoming radiofrequency signal.

“In theory we can modify the bioresponsive layer in these sensors to target other chemicals – we are really limited only by our creativity,” said Fiorenzo Omenetto, Ph.D., corresponding author and the Frank C. Doble Professor of Engineering at Tufts. “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.”

The sensor consists three layers sandwiched with each other having one central “bioresponsive” layer that absorbs the nutrient or other chemicals to be detected while outer layers consist two square-shaped gold rings. These three layers acts like the antenna that can collect and transmit the information using the radiofrequency spectrum. As an incoming wave hits the sensor, some of it is cancelled out and the rest transmitted back, just like a patch of blue paint absorbs redder wavelengths and reflects the blue back to our eyes.

The work was supported by U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, the National Institutes of Health (NIH; F32 EB021159) National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and the Office of Naval Research. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH, the Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or the Office of Naval Research.