Patent: Wearable Spectroscopic Sensor to Measure Food Consumption Based on Interaction between Light & the Human Body
The world is witnessing an obesity epidemic which is mainly related to our consumption of foods. Worldwide obesity rates have almost tripled since 1975 with almost 39% adults aged 18 years and over suffering from overweight issues and 13% suffering from obesity as of 2016. Obesity in children is also rapidly on the rise with almost 1 in every 5th child suffering from overweight issues and almost 50% of these children live in Asia. The irony here is that we have reached this threshold despite obesity being a preventable disease. Its not like we are all blind to the obesity epidemic and there are actions taken from all sides-the government, people and physicians to control it but the problem only seems to be growing more and more. Preventing and treating obesity remains on top of the list for a better future generation who would otherwise suffer from chronic illnesses and debilitating diseases right from their young age. We need innovative and feasible ways to help people moderate their consumption of healthy food, manage energy balance (calories consume vs calories expelled) and lose weight in a healthy and sustainable manner.
The current trend is junk food consumption which has attained new heights with latest innovations. These foods are nothing but high in simple sugars and saturated fats with negligible nutrition. A donut might seem small but the calorie content in it is large. When we munch one during our snack time, we tend to ignore it in our daily total calorie consumption. Its not good enough to believe that dieting in our own style or relying on our so-called willpower will help us overcome consumption of junk or ensure portion control. Weight management and weight loss depend on proper nutrition intake and management of calorie intake else. Else, if we continue at this present pace the day is not far off when every other person living is either overweight/obese faced with life-threatening health problems and well-being issues.
Our eyes deceive us and our hearts feel for us and we make mistakes calculating our calorie intakes or in figuring out where we are going wrong in trying to lose weight despite our dieting regimens. The invention patented here exactly addresses this problem thereby helping any individual monitor and control his/her intake of foods and nutrients. It also stands tall in the sense that it helps a person reduce his/her consumption of junk foods and their intake quantity too.
The invention is based on the concept of a wearable device that measure’s a person’s food consumption based on the interaction between light energy and the person’s body. This wearable device can be a finger ring, smart watch, wrist band, armlet, cuff, sleeve or wrist bracelet. The device comprises of the following:
On a comparative note, the technical challenges of identifying consumption of selected types of foods, ingredients and nutrients is much more than the challenges of identifying which types are healthy or unhealthy. The selected ingredient or nutrient is estimated indirectly using a database that links common types and amounts of foods with common types and amounts of ingredients or nutrients. The device does not rely on estimates from a database but does require more complex ingredient-specific or nutrient-specific sensors. There are many individuals who consume ultra-processed foods whose main ingredient is sugars. In these foods, the sugar content is mostly hidden or disguised in the form of labeling it as ‘cane sugar’ or ‘100% natural’ but in reality, they are not good for the body and the device here isn’t fooled by these fancy labelling terms and the ingredients.
The device here also caters to the needs of people allergic to certain foods, excludes those deemed as ‘unhealthy’ by the user’s physician and also has the potential to analyze food composition to identify one or more types of foods whose consumption is prohibited or discouraged for religious, moral and cultural beliefs. The volume or quantity of food consumed is estimated by analyzing one or more pictures of the food. The volume might be calculated by using a physical or fiduciary marker such as a plate, utensil, or an item of a known size. Otherwise, the food scale might be used to measure the weight of food prior to consumption and the weight of unconsumed food remaining after consumption to estimate weight of food consumed based on difference in pre vs post consumption measurements. The device monitoring food consumption might comprise of a wearable sensor that is configured to be worn on a patient’s wrist, hand, finger or arm and the sensor corrects data that is used to detect probable eating events without requiring action by the person in association with a probable eating event apart from the act of eating; a smart food utensil, probe or dish that collects data which is used to analyze the chemical composition of food that the person eats; a data analysis component where this component analyses data collected by the food utensil, probe or dish to estimate the types and amounts of foods, ingredients, nutrients and calories that are consumed by the person and, this component also analyzes the data collected by the sensor and food utensil for getting a clear account of the individual’s total food consumption.
This spectroscopic device is not the go-to device for relying 100% on all your required good nutrition and weight management but it does aid the individual in encouraging good nutrition, weight management, energy balance and overall health. The patent was published on March 17th, 2016 and for detailed description of the patent please refer:
United States Patent & Trademark Office: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=%22wearable+spectroscopic+sensor%22&s2=%22measure+food+consumption%22&OS=
World Intellectual Property Organization: https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=US160392400&_cid=P22-JY8GAI-73892-1
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