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.

Photography

With 61 megapixels, the Sony A7R IV is the highest-resolution full-frame camera

With a 61-megapixel, backside-illuminated sensor, the Sony A7R IV is officially the highest-resolution full-frame camera you can buy. It also boasts a stronger body, better viewfinder, and new autofocus system.
Mobile

Need to record calls on an iPhone? Check out our handy guide

Are you wondering how to record calls on your iPhone? It isn't as easy as you might think, but we'll walk you through the process of doing so with Google Voice, and identify several other apps and external voice recorders that can help.
Photography

A Leica cheaper than the competition, the V-Lux 5 is a versatile zoom

With a larger 1-inch sensor mixing with a 16x zoom lens, the Leica V-Lux 5 is designed as a versatile bridge zoom. And while Leica and "cheap" are seldom used together, the V-Lux 5 actually costs a bit less than a competing camera.
Emerging Tech

This wearable sensor sips sweat to work out whether a person is dehydrated

A new smart sensor can tell whether a person is becoming dehydrated by analyzing the potassium and sodium in their sweat. Here's why it could be a game-changer for soldiers, athletes, and anyone who works outdoors.
Emerging Tech

The Very Large Telescope captures the beautiful remnants of a dying star

The VLT has captured a beautiful cosmic object, the planetary nebula named Abell 24. Located in constellation of Canis Minor (The Lesser Dog), it is a swirl of dust and gas which is illuminated by the core of a dead star.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers have spotted a moon forming around a proto-Jupiter

Astronomers have spotted a young planet with a disk of gas and dust around it which is similar to the one from which the moons of Jupiter were born. The planet PDS 70 b is in the process of forming and is located 370 light-years away.
Emerging Tech

Stallone in Terminator 2? How one deepfake prankster is changing cinema history

Ever wanted to see The Shining with Jim Carrey instead of Jack Nicholson? How about Stallone in Terminator 2: Judgement Day instead of everyone's favorite governator? Thanks to deepfakes, it's now possible -- just ask YouTuber Ctrl Shift…
Emerging Tech

NASA thinks 3D-printing spacecraft parts in orbit will help Moon to Mars mission

NASA funded the demonstration by a small spacecraft named Archinaut One to manufacture and assemble parts while in space. NASA believes that the technology will change future space exploration, including its Moon to Mars initiative.
Emerging Tech

Flyboard Air soars over Paris during France’s national day celebrations

Franky Zapata, the inventor of the jet-powered Flyboard Air, showed off his machine during France's Bastille Day celebrations on Sunday. The impressive display was even given a nod of approval by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Deals

Save with Prime Day deals on DNA kits from Ancestry, 23andme, and Living DNA

Prime Day is a great time to order a DNA kit. Over the years, kits from various providers have been deeply discounted -- and this year's no exception. Kits from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and Living DNA are on sale for as much as half off…
Emerging Tech

Airport hotel builds a full-sized flight simulator into one of its guest rooms

Aviation enthusiasts flying out of Tokyo's Haneda Airport, there's a new hotel room designed just for you. It features a full-sized Boeing 737-800 flight simulator, though you'll have to pay extra to use it.
Emerging Tech

Like the real thing, this robot ant colony is more than the sum of its parts

Researchers have built a robot ant colony, consisting of tiny 10-gram robots which are able to communicate with one another, assign roles among themselves, and work together to complete tasks.
Emerging Tech

Watch live: Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins reflect on the moon landing

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the famous Apollo 11 mission, NASA will hold a live broadcast featuring a retrospective and presentations by the astronauts involved. You can watch the event live on July 16 at 6:15 a.m. PT.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX finally knows what caused its Crew Dragon capsule to explode

SpaceX and NASA say they finally know what caused its Crew Dragon capsule to explode during an April test of the spacecraft’s thruster system. It's now unlikely that the capsule will be used for crewed spaceflight before the end of the…