Who Knows What Lurks In The Mouths Of Men?
The sensor knows: Taiwanese researchers have created a prototype of an implantable device that may one day give dentists and others insights on patients' oral habits and hygiene.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
Researchers at National Taiwan University managed to pack sensors onto a tiny circuit board, which they then implanted into a pair of dentures. On tests done with denture wearers, and using special machine learning software, they were able to distinguish jaw motions associated with different activities -- chewing, speaking, smoking, and the like -- with 94 percent accuracy. They plan to present their work at the International Symposium on Wearable Computers in September.
What's the Big Idea?
The prototype represents a first step toward being able to determine patients' oral habits in real time. The team's next steps include making the device even smaller so that it can fit into a cavity or crown, adding a microbattery -- the prototype was connected to an external power source -- and, if possible, adding Bluetooth to enable data transmission to a smartphone app. If they're successful, says Trevor Johnson of the UK's Faculty of General Dental Practice, "[t]his could have a number of uses in dentistry, for example as a research tool, for monitoring patients who clench or grind their teeth, and for assessing the impact of various dental interventions."
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