No more lying through your teeth?

A sensor embedded in your tooth could tell doctors if you have defied medical advice to give up smoking or to eat less!

Built into a tiny circuit board, the sensor includes an accelerometer that transmits data to a smartphone. So from each tell-tale jaw motion pattern, the software can work out how much chewing, teeth grinding, smoking, coughing, talking or (…okay I’ll stop there!) that you are doing.

The device can be fitted into dentures or a dental brace, and the team at the National Taiwan University in Taipei plan to miniaturise it further to fit into a cavity or crown. Results so far look promising, with the system having recognised ‘oral activities’ correctly 94 per cent of the time in tests to date. New Scientist and IEEE Spectrum have both covered the story.

It kind of takes ‘wearables’ into a whole new sphere! Don’t you think?

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  1. Donna Cusano

    If you can correlate jaw motion with truth or lies, could this be a new tool for law enforcement to replace or supplement the polygraph (“lie detector”)?

    Also people who live near radio transmitters have always had tales of ‘hearing the radio through their fillings’. (I grew up with a 50kW transmitter about 1.5 miles away on the highway, and back in the day the signal consistently bled over into phone lines.) One can imagine when they hook Bluetooth into this what may be the unintended consequences!

  2. Toni Bunting

    Or regarding lie detection this could be done through analysis of variations in timing, tone and pitch of speech. Following on from that would be the capacity (when Bluetooth is added) for conversations to be ‘monitored’ if trigger words and/or variations in tone were found to merit it!

  3. The title indicates that this might expose lying about smoking, or eating too much, although I suspect few doctors are fooled anyway – certainly for smoking, if you cannot smell the smoke on someone, a CO meter seems to be a pretty good detector, that works well now.

    The actual usage might be a little less headline grabbing: Trevor Johnson, vice-chair of research at the Faculty of General Dental Practice in the UK suggests that “This 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”.