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A New Year’s Resolution Meets Technology

It’s that time of year.  On January 1, many of us will resolve to change something. There are innumerable lists of the “top ten” resolutions. This one, from pittsburgh.com is typical.1 The list includes:

1.     Spending more time with family and friends

2.     Getting fit

3.     Losing weight

4.     Quitting smoking

5.     Enjoying life more

6.     Quitting drinking

7.     Getting out of debt

8.     Learning something new

9.     Helping others

10.   Getting organized

I think we would all agree that for many, these are laudable goals. Of all of these resolutions, I am quite sure that losing weight is on many of our lists.

I recently came upon an incredibly neat invention. It’s called “eButton” and it was created by a group of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh. The eButton is a device that you wear which monitors what you eat and in so doing, calculates your caloric intake. It does so by taking pictures of the foods you eat, recognizing those foods, and estimating the calorie count for each portion consumed. The original article on eButton was published this past year.2 “Using its newly built comprehensive food-shape library, the eButton can now extract food from 2D and 3D images and, using a camera coordinate system, evaluate that food based on shape, color, and size.

The Pittsburgh team “tested their new design on 17 popular favorites like jelly, broccoli, hamburgers, and peanut butter”.5 They found an average accuracy of over 96%.

And the eButton can do more! It can track your activities…how many times you go to the gym, which restaurants you go to, how much time you spend on the couch and how many miles you jog in a day.

While it may seem like this is definitely “big brother watching you” there is no doubt that there will be many more technological approaches to today’s common issues.

If you have any thoughts on a New Year’s resolution or on the computerized approach to weight loss, leave a comment on this blog, or better yet…please drop by the Macklem House, my door is always open.

 

Richard

 

1. http://pittsburgh.about.com/od/holidays/tp/resolutions.htm

2. Hsin-Chen Chen, Wenyan Jia, Yaofeng Yue, Zhaoxin Li, Yung-Nien Sun, John D Fernstrom, Mingui Sun. Model-based measurement of food portion size for image-based dietary assessment using 3D/2D registrationMeasurement Science and Technology, 2013; 24 (10): 105701 DOI: 10.1088/0957-0233/24/10/105701

3. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909131224.htm

4. http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57321725-1/ebutton-knows-if-youre-a-workout-warrior-or-a-slug/

5. http://www.sciencecodex.com/ebutton_health_monitor_gets_a_facelift-118960

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