Tooth-mounted sensors track your diet and health from inside your mouth

tooth mounted sensor toothsensor
SilkLab, Tufts University
SilkLab, Tufts University

High-tech wearables are everywhere, from our wrists to our pets to our … mouths?

Engineers at Tufts University have created tiny sensors that attach to teeth. It’s not a fashion statement, though it could very well someday become one. Instead, the wireless sensors are designed to monitor health and dietary habits, relaying data about sugar, salt, and alcohol intake to a wearer’s mobile device. It’s like a little nutritionist in your mouth that keeps tabs on every time you cheat on your diet.

If the eyes are windows to the soul, the mouth is a doorway to our health. The food that passes through it has a direct effect on our overall health, and a bunch of biomarkers can be picked up from our spit. With their tooth-mounted biosensor, the Tufts team aims to take measurements from inside the mouth, recording what’s been eaten and how the body has responded.

To do so, they sandwiched biosensors between layers of gold, which act like a little antenna, collecting and relaying physiological data.

“I think the best way to think about it is a little Ziploc bag,” Fiorenzo Omenetto, a Tufts engineer who led the research, told Digital Trends. “Each side of the bag has an antenna and inside the bag there is a “sensitive element.'” These sensitive elements can respond to things like pH and glucose, transmitting measurements either wirelessly, through radio frequencies, or physically, for example by changing color and shape. “Calibrating all of these responses and changing material combinations allows for detection of what is happening in the oral cavity, for example, or on the surface of teeth,” Omenetto said.

In a paper published last week in the journal Advanced Materials, the researchers discuss how the tooth-mounted wearable could be used for both medical and lifestyle purposes, helping both patients and people who just want  to live healthier.

“While we are aware about what we ingest, we may indulge or deal with overeating pathologies,” Omenetto said. “On the other hand, sampling and monitoring analytes in the oral cavity could help in a number of ways, from monitoring dental health to monitoring physiological states, such as fatigue, through saliva sampling. Obviously, the latter applications require device refinements in terms of sensitivity and specificity to the analytes of interest.”

The device is less obtrusive than previous in-mouth wearables, but it’s still far from discreet, thanks to gold outer layers that give wearers the look of a cyberpunk pirate. Omenetto admits he and his team didn’t design it to be inconspicuous, but said you could always wear it on a molar.

Emerging Tech

With cameras that know dogs from Dodges, Honda is making intersections safer

Honda and the city of Marysville, Ohio are working on creating a smart intersection. The goal would not only help better direct the flow of traffic, it could also help save the lives of pedestrians and cyclists.
Smart Home

Simplisafe steps outside the smart home with its Video Doorbell Pro

SimpiSafe is pushing into the smart home market by introducing a new high-tech video doorbell that includes 1080p HD monitoring and a dual-sensor motion trigger that combines a body heat detector and a motion detector.
Product Review

The design still says retro, but Fujifilm's X-T3 is all about the future

If the X-T2 brought Fujifilm into the modern era, the X-T3 is focused on the future. With a new sensor and processor, completely revamped autofocus, and vastly upgraded video, it's the new APS-C camera to beat.
Computing

How to protect your iCloud account

From Chinese hacking to identity theft, it's not surprising if you're a little worried about your iCloud data. Here's how to protect your iCloud account with a few simple security steps. It will only take a few minutes, and we'll walk you…
Cars

GPS units aren't dead! Our favorite models still do things your phone can't

Love hitting the open road but hate having to rely solely on your phone for getting around? Thankfully, the best in-car GPS systems will allow you to navigate and capitalize on a range of features sans your cellular network. Here are our…
Emerging Tech

Boston Dynamics is trying to make fetch happen with its new working robot dog

Boston Dynamics wants to see Spot in the workplace, but not as part of take-your-dog-to-work days. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the technology company believes its extraordinary robo-dog is now ready to start work.
Emerging Tech

Regular paints and plastics will soon be able to ‘heal’ like skin

Imagine if paints, plastics, or other coatings could heal up like human skin in the event that they suffered damage. Thanks to researchers at Clemson University, such technology is almost here.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how Microsoft’s Hololens is helping NASA build the new Orion spacecraft

Lockheed Martin is turning to Microsoft’s mixed reality Hololens smartglasses to help build NASA's Orion spacecraft, which could one day help rocket astronauts as far afield as Mars.
Emerging Tech

Shrimp eyes inspire new camera focused on helping self-driving cars see better

By mimicking the vision of mantis shrimp, researchers were able to make significant improvements on today’s commercial cameras. They hope their technology can help mitigate accidents by letting self-driving vehicles see more clearly.
Emerging Tech

This intelligent parachute system can bail out clumsy drone pilots

Parachutes can save drones when they unexpectedly fall from the sky. Among a number of such systems, Austrian firm Drone Rescue is this week showing off its latest design that automatically deploys when it senses trouble.
Cars

‘Bloodhound’ rocket car needs a speedy cash injection to survive

The rocket-powered Bloodhound car has driven into difficulties, with the company behind the project needing a multi-million-dollar cash injection to save its dream of attempting a 1,000 mph land speed record.
Emerging Tech

Tokyo robotic warehouse needs almost no human workers

Uniqlo has unveiled its first robot-powered warehouse that requires 90 percent fewer human workers to operate. The Japanese clothing giant plans to invest close to $1 billion dollars to convert all of its warehouses worldwide.
Emerging Tech

Curious how A.I. 'brains' work? Here's a super-simple breakdown of deep learning

What is deep learning? A branch of machine learning, this field deals with the creation of neural networks that are modeled after the brain and adept at dealing with large amounts of human-oriented data, like writing and voice commands.
Emerging Tech

Drop everything and watch Boston Dynamics’ robo-dog dance to ‘Uptown Funk’

After a few years of Earthbound training, Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini robot dog is ready to take on Mars. Bruno Mars, to be precise. Check out Skynet's future pet as you've never seen it before.