ECE professor Adam Hoover and Psychology professor Eric Muth have created the Bite Counter, a measurement device that will make it easier for people to monitor how much they eat. Worn like a watch, the Bite Counter device tracks a pattern of wrist-roll motion to identify when the wearer has taken a bite of food. The advantage of the Bite Counter is that it is automated so that user bias is removed. The device can be used anywhere, such as at restaurants or while working, where people find it difficult to manually track and remember calories. The device is not based on what happens in a single bite (i.e. exact grams or specific food nutrients), but in how it simplifies long-term monitoring.
This research is being funded by a one year, $225,000 National Institute of Health Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) in partnership with the MUSC Weight Loss Center and Bite Technologies. The primary goals of this NIH-funded project are to: (i) begin to examine the relationship between bite count and caloric intake; and (2) examine if reducing bite count leads to reduced caloric intake. If indeed bite count is shown to be systematically related to caloric intake, OR reducing bite count over time leads to reduced caloric intake, then the Bite Counter could prove to be a revolutionary tool in the battle against obesity. It would be the only tool available to automatically monitor intake in free-living humans, without burdening the individual with cumbersome methods. For clinical or nutritional studies, the Bite Counter will be combined with food diaries to provide a more comprehensive record of intake. As a tool for intake assessment, the Bite Counter will enable new research studies to be undertaken and novel weight loss strategies to be developed.