eButton tracks your diet and level of activity
By Ben Coxworth
November 15, 2011
Are you trying to lose weight, but don't like keeping track of your food intake? Well, there may or may not be an app for that, but there is a button. An eButton, to be precise. That's the name of a wearable device developed at the University of Pittsburgh, that incorporates a camera, accelerometer, GPS, and other sensors. These all work together to maintain a profile of not only what the user is eating, but also how much exercise they're getting, how much time they spend sitting around, and other factors that can affect weight gain.
Although details are scarce on exactly how the eButton works, apparently it can track where food is purchased, how it's prepared, how long the user spends consuming which foods and beverages, and even how the user interacts with family and friends while dining. It is also able to determine which restaurants are visited, and what items are ordered.
Losing weight isn't just about diet, of course, so the eButton also records how much time the user spends seated in front of a television or computer, and how much time they're active, in a gym or outdoors. Analyzing the data is reportedly as simple as transferring photos from a camera to a computer.
"This multidimensional approach looks at the overall health of eButton wearers, which is more important than just food and exercise alone," said U Pittsburgh project leader Mingui Sun. "We have to take into account how people live, not only what they eat or how they exercise at the gym."
The eButton is presently being used in a pilot study, to estimate the caloric intake and physical activity level of test subjects. There is no word at this point of commercial availability.
It is very reminiscent of the recently-announced PlateMate system, in which an online community determines the caloric value of users' meals by analyzing photos of their food.