Local researchers develop miniature monitoring device

TINY SENSOR::A triaxial sensor placed in a tooth, with its own software, will be able to help monitor patients’ everyday living habits, developers said

By Chen Cheng-liang, Chen Ping-hung and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Thu, Aug 01, 2013 - Page 3

Taiwanese researchers have developed a device — which is to be the subject of a debate at the International Symposium on Wearable Computers in Switzerland next month — that developers said could help monitor an individual’s oral activities.

Developed by the Ubcomp Lab, which is affiliated with National Taiwan University’s information technology department, Chu Hao-hua (朱浩華), a professor at the university, and colleagues said that a miniature triaxial sensor inserted into a fake tooth could analyze all oral activities — chewing, speaking, swallowing and coughing — with up to 93.8 percent accuracy.

Placed on a very small microchip along with an accelerator, the device has built-in software to identify each oral action and record the time it takes for a wearer to chew, drink, eat, cough or smoke a cigarette.

“We also hope to include a Bluetooth device in the chip in the future, so that the device may be able to transmit the data to a smartphone for further analysis and understanding of a user’s day-to-day living habits,” Chu said.

Chu said that he and his colleagues hoped to use the mouth as a means to understand all sorts of health problems.

The team said that the greatest problem in developing the device is the power source.

The team is considering viable micro-sized power sources and a teammember told the New Scientist magazine in an interview that the commercial potential of a micro-sized or wireless-capable device is limitless.

Meanwhile, during a Bluetooth Special Interest Group meeting on Tuesday, which discussed the ways in which Bluetooth technology trends are being applied, companies displayed a portable radiation-detection device that is being developed.

No larger than a human thumb, the sensory device — once placed in the target location — could transmit the data it gathered via Bluetooth directly to a smartphone, allowing for instantaneous and almost real-time monitoring of radiation levels.

The same technology has also been used in blood pressure meters, which use nanosecond pulse near-field sensing technology and Bluetooth transmissions to show patients their blood pressure and heart rate, without the need for inflating a band around the arm to increase pressure on the blood vessels, as in traditional blood pressure meters.