Weight loss is big business. But the newest developments in the industry may not come from pills, books or yet another fad diet.
Researchers at Germany's Passau University have taken a different approach and created a pair of 3D printed glasses designed to help monitor your food intake.
Working in a similar way to a food diary, the high tech eyewear records what you’re eating by monitoring how you chew. It does this via fabric electrodes that are built into the ends of the frame and sit against the skin behind the ears.
These electrodes analyse temporalis muscle contraction – or the chewing movements in the jaw - via a process known as electromyography that records the electrical activity of muscle tissue.
This information is then used to determine what kind of food you’re eating. But that’s where the limitations of the technology become clear.
Initial testing has found the glasses are able to distinguish between five significantly different textures, according to the Daily Dot.
Bananas, cookies, toast, carrots and Jelly Babies were all successfully identified by the device, but its creators concede it would not be able to differentiate between foods of a similar texture, like nuts and m’n’ms for example.
The other crucial shortfall is that it's hopelessly unable to determine the healthiness (or otherwise) of what’s being consumed; rye crackers with avocado have a similar texture to Tim Tams dunked in a chocolate milkshake but that doesn’t mean they have the same dietary qualities.
This is in addition to the fact that the spectacles only measure what you've already eaten, meaning its use is limited to simply motoring food intake (which can also be done with a pen and paper) rather than actively bettering the quality of it or limiting the quantity. Not to mention you have to be wearing them at all times.
However during their presentation at the IEEE Body Sensor Networks conference this month, the brains behind the device said it could be used in conjunction with other sensors to enhance its food monitoring ability, according to the Daily Dot.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time the concept of diet glasses has been attempted. Researchers at the University of Tokyo tried their hand at a model in 2012.
The Japanese version looks much more like something out of a sci-fi film and works with augmented reality to confuse the user’s senses.
A front mounted camera captures what you hold out in front of it, say an Oreo cookie, and the computer technology works to make the cookie appear larger while keeping your hand the same size in way that tries to trick you into feeling more satisfied while eating less.
Nice try, guys.