Smartwatches that help you track daily steps and heart rate? That’s old hat, according to UNLV researchers who have recently licensed their latest patent for a fitness tracker that makes calorie-counting as easy as taking a picture.
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 invention — set to enter the commercial development stage soon — represents the next step in making health management effortlessly quick and non-intrusive for everyone from diabetic patients to athletes or anyone interested in monitoring their fitness regimen, researchers said.
“The missing piece within the fitness tracking space is nutrition monitoring,” said 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.
“MealCheck Technologies, Inc., offers commercialization expertise and a genuine enthusiasm for our technology,” said Zach Miles, UNLV’s associate vice president for economic development, “so we’re really excited to partner with them.”
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,” said Tom Piechota, UNLV’s vice president for research and economic development. “What our researchers achieve together on campus today can end up in the hands of consumers tomorrow.”
About University of Nevada, Las Vegas
UNLV is a doctoral-degree-granting institution of approximately 29,000 students and more than 3,000 faculty and staff that is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a research university with high research activity. UNLV offers a broad range of respected academic programs and is on a path to join the top tier of national public research universities. UNLV is committed to recruiting and retaining top students and faculty, educating the region's diversifying population and workforce, driving economic activity through research and community partnerships, and creating an academic health center for Southern Nevada that includes a new School of Medicine. UNLV is located on a 332-acre main campus and two satellite campuses in Southern Nevada. Learn more at UNLV.edu.
About Academic Technology Ventures, Inc.
Academic Technology Ventures encourages researchers, scientists and professors’ drive for creative freedom by starting tech companies from top research. The company thrives on discovering novel technologies and taking them to the marketplace. Academic Technology Ventures is fueled by a passion to make the world a better place by bringing these inventions to life.