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New Zealand IoT Alliance

Tooth Sensor Measures Intake of Sugar, Salt, Alcohol


“The novel and miniaturisation of IoT devices looks set to become a common area of innovation as this technology evolves. Security and privacy are key matters which come to mind when thinking about an innovation like this, so the work the NZIoT is doing in this space is critical to the uptake and success of this technology”

Having an accurate record of food and alcohol intake is important for managing a number of diseases including diabetes, various cardiovascular conditions, and alcoholism. Currently, not much practical technology is available to do this aside from smartphone apps, and apps tend to be tedious and require constant vigilance of making sure to input all the data.

Researchers at Tufts University have developed an amazing new sensor, only 2 millimeters on a side, that can be attached to the tooth and measure and transmit readings about glucose, salt and alcohol intake. The device is a combination of a novel, unpowered chemical sensor coupled with RFID (radiofrequency ID) technology. This allows the device to work without requiring a battery, as readings are performed by bouncing RF waves off of it while a special device measures the nature of the returning signal.

The sensor consists of a material that absorbs the compounds to be measured, fattening in the process, and two square gold rings on the outside. As an analyte is absorbed, the gold rings move apart and the returning radio waves that bounce off of the device change accordingly.

Though the device has so far been developed to target a few specific analytes, in principle many others can also be measured. Additionally, it can be attached to the skin and perhaps be useful in measuring chemical composition of sweat, body temperature, and other parameters.

New Zealand IoT Alliance The New Zealand IoT Alliance is an association of organisations and individuals that have come together to take a key role in growing our country's capability to maximize the Internet of Things to generate economic growth while addressing any challenges.