The National Science Foundation is spending roughly $750,000 to develop a "smart earpiece" that can detect anything an obese person eats or drinks.
The joint project between Clemson and Dartmouth University will create a "jewelry like" device to better understand "eating-related behaviors."
"Obesity is one of the most pressing health challenges faced by our country, and has been the target of much attention in the mobile health (mHealth) community," the grant awarded to Clemson reads. "While the science of obesity indicates that diet is a major factor in behavioral change to encourage healthy weight management, we are still not able to effectively, quickly and easily measure eating and drinking behavior."
The researchers say diet is a "major factor" in obesity.
"While the science of obesity indicates that diet is a major factor in behavioral change to encourage healthy weight management, we are still not able to effectively, quickly and easily measure eating and drinking behavior," according to the Dartmouth University grant.
The project will create an earpiece that will know when a person is eating, drinking, smoking, talking, and enduring physiological stress.
"Ultimately, a better understanding of eating-related behaviors, and better design of effective interventions regarding eating behavior, will have profound impact on personal and public health as well as the national economy," the grant said. "The project's hardware and software prototypes will be shared widely in the research community to enable experimentation around the sensing and interaction opportunities possible in an earpiece device."
Researchers said the long-term goal is that "computational jewelry" will help them "better understand health-related behaviors" to create interventions that change how people eat.
The project began on Oct. 1. Clemson received $230,277, while Dartmouth received $515,493, for a total of $745,770 in taxpayer funding.
Request for comment from the researchers was not returned.