Scientists at the National Taiwan University have taken wearable computers to a whole other level with the development of a small circuit board designed to fit into dentures, crowns, cavities, or braces. Keeping track of jaw motion, the sensor can figure out how much time a patient spends speaking, chewing, drinking, coughing, and smoking. Yes, this means they can figure out if you've been lying about quitting smoking or eating less.
"Because our mouth is an opening into assessing the health of the human body, it presents the opportunity for the placement of a strategic sensor for detecting human oral activities," wrote the team of scientists, detailing their research. "Because a sensor placement inside the mouth has the advantage of being in proximity to where oral activities actually occur, this enables our oral sensory system to accurately capture the motion of oral activities." The sensor will be presented September at the International Symposium on Wearable Computers in Zurich, Switzerland.
Elementary tests have found the tooth sensor to accurately recognize oral activities 94% of the time in eight people who have had the device installed in their dentures. But here's the rub: Researchers thus far haven't found a way to incorporate a micro-battery. Instead, the prototype relies on an external wire to connect to a power source. The aim is to incorporate Bluetooth technology, but the team is seeking expert opinions on whether the energy emitted is safe for patients.
Last year, Microsoft Research and the University of Toronto had also proposed a wearable sensor to analyze oral activities, including eating, speaking, and laughing. However, instead of taking the form as a tooth implant, the BodyScope acoustic sensor is worn around the neck and records the sounds produced in the throat. With 71.5% accuracy, it was able to classify the oral sounds correctly.
[Image: National Taiwan University, Flickr user Mike Towber]