How Technology Can Filter the Need for Check-Ups

Check-ups can be frustrating, especially when there’s nothing wrong with you.

Check-ups are necessary though. If there really is something wrong with you, a check up is the only way a professional can help before it gets worse. Annual check-ups are so high in demand, that it brings the health care system $8 billion annually.

However, some people are more in need of check-ups than others. Being able to monitor people’s health remotely can help doctors and dentists recognize the people most in need of such services.

At the International Symposium of Wearable Computers in Switzerland, a team from National Taiwan University presented a sensor that embeds within a single tooth. The sensor is small enough to fit inside a fake tooth or straddle outside a real one. It uses an accelerometer to monitor different activities of the mouth, as it breathes, eats, drinks, talks, coughs or smokes. It can detect up to 60 different activities; so a doctor can detect abnormal breathing, and a dentist can tell if there are issues with tooth grinding. The data from this sensor can be transferred to a computer.

The technology is still in its early stages of development. Its accuracy, which ranges from 60 to 95 percent depending on the person, can be improved. It needs to be safe enough so that all electrical parts are sealed, and so that if anybody swallows it, it would pass without harm. Instead of using wires to manually upload the data to computers, it could use some bluetooth technology to wirelessly report the data. These are all concerns the team will continue working on.