A wearable, picture-taking health monitor created by University of Pittsburgh researchers has received a recent facelift. Now, in addition to documenting what a person eats, the eButton prototype can accurately match those images against a geometric-shape library, providing a much easier method for counting calories.
Published in Measurement Science and Technology, the Pitt study demonstrates a new computational tool that has been added to the eButton-a device that fastens to the shirt like a pin. Using its newly built comprehensive food-shape library, the eButton can now extract food from 2D and 3D images and, using a camera coordinate system, evaluate that food based on shape, color, and size.
"Human memory of past eating is imperfect," said Mingui Sun, lead investigator and Pitt professor of neurosurgery and bioengineering and professor of electrical and computer engineering. "Visually gauging the size of a food based on an imaginary measurement unit is very subjective, and some individuals don't want to track what they consume. We're trying to remove the guess work from the dieting process."
eButton-which is built with a low-power central processing unit, a random-access memory communication interface, and an Android operating system-now includes a library of foods with nine common shapes: cuboid, wedge, cylinder, sphere, top and bottom half spheres, ellipse, half ellipse, and tunnel. The device snaps a series of photos while a person is eating, and its new formula goes to work: removing the background image, zeroing in on the food, and measuring its volume by projecting and fitting the selected 3D shape to the 2D photograph using a series of mathematical equations.