Professors in engineering and nursing set out to up the ante in the wearable-technology industry by creating a device that combines and exceeds the best of existing activity-tracking devices such as Fitbit. UNLV’s version will merge current fitness-assessment functions with camera and scanning technology that allows users to photograph their food and find out its nutritional content, including the caloric value, based on the type of food, portion sizes and fat content.
“The missing piece within the fitness tracking space is nutrition monitoring,” says Jason Pottinger, director of business strategy at MealCheck Technologies, Inc.—the startup that, per a recently signed licensing agreement, will commercially develop, manufacture and sell UNLV’s device. “What can’t be accomplished through self-reporting and apps will be possible through this technology we’re producing.”
MealCheck—an offshoot of Academic Technology Ventures, Inc., which specializes in sponsoring and commercializing academic research—was founded specifically to bring this invention to market.
The device is the brainchild of UNLV’s Jillian Inouye, professor and associate dean for research in the Schools of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences; Mohamed B. Trabia, mechanical engineering professor and associate dean for research, graduate studies and computing in the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering; and Venkatesan Muthukumar, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.
“This technology highlights the impactful nature of interdisciplinary research taking place at UNLV,” says Tom Piechota, UNLV’s former vice president for research and economic development. “What our researchers achieve together on campus to-day can end up in the hands of consumers tomorrow.”