September 19, 2013 report
Team develops tooth embedded sensor for oral activity recognition
(Phys.org) —A team of researchers at National Taiwan University has developed a sensor for embedding in a single tooth. The sensor as the team explains in their study paper records movement using an accelerometer to identify different oral activities such as chewing, smoking, coughing, etc. The team presented their sensor at this year's International Symposium on Wearable Computers held early this month in Switzerland.
As scientists develop ways to make electronics smaller, researchers find new ways to use them. In this new effort, the team in Taiwan has developed a sensor that is small enough to fit inside of an artificial tooth, or to sit astride a natural one. The current sensor developed by the team uses very tiny wires to carry data from the sensor to a computer—future versions will use Bluetooth to allow for a wireless implementation.
The sensor measures jaw movement, and because of that is able to identify different types of oral activities. Currently it is capable of recognizing (after calibration for each individual) the difference between chewing, smoking, coughing, eating and drinking. This, the researchers say, could be invaluable to dentists, doctors and other scientists. The device would allow a dentist, for example, to monitor teeth grinding, a doctor to verify how much a person is eating or smoking, and a behavioral scientist to measure stress levels.
To verify the accuracy of the device, the research team enlisted the assistance of eight volunteers—each had a sensor affixed to a tooth and then was asked to perform several different activities (cough, chew gum, etc.) for approximately 30 seconds each while the computer analyzed the data and made a personal profile for them. Afterwards, each of the volunteers was then asked to engage in the various oral activities and the researchers report that the sensor and computer were 93.8 percent accurate in determining which activity was being performed.
The research team is continuing to work on improving the sensor and expect to have a wireless product that is able to fit inside a normal crown very soon. Such a development would mean tooth sensors could become a standard procedure in dental offices if patients are willing to submit to their insertion for their personal purposes.
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