Sept. 8 - Researchers at the Taiwan National University have invented a ''Smart Tooth'' prototype that will monitor a person's eating, drinking, and chewing habits. The scientists say their device could promote better health in people who smoke or over-eat. Tara Cleary reports.
Wired to a computer ... researcher Andy Chen is testing a prototype "Smart Tooth", designed to monitor movement in the mouth. Containing a miniature accelerometer, it's designed to fit over a partial tooth, like a conventional crown. The sensor can differentiate between oral activities like eating, drinking, or talking, and produces data that can be sent to a computer for analysis. Fellow researcher Kelvin Li says once the Smart Tooth can operate wirelessly, it will be able to help people overcome unhealthy habits like overeating and smoking, by focussing on specific data. SOUNDBITE: KELVIN LI, DOCTORAL CANDIDATE AT NATIONAL TAIWAN UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE AND INFORMATION ENGINEERING, SAYING "We look at the movements in an interval, not the movement in a moment. We take the values every 2.5 seconds, and during this time, if you cough, for example, the information would be very different." But the technology has limitations. Only people who require a crown could wear it and dentists would have to be involved in its manufacture. But Li says the team is working on a smaller version designed to fit inside an existing tooth cavity ... food for thought for the health conscious.