Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have created an electronic sensor which monitors sodium intake.
The device, which is embedded in a dental retainer, sends data to your phone, alerting consumers when they exceed their recommended intake.
Researchers hope their invention will help people with hypertension to keep their sodium intake down.
The sensor, which can monitor salt consumption for 12 hours, is made from a flexible “ultra-thin, breathable, elastrometric membrane” and researchers say it is comfortable to wear.
It uses bluetooth technology to transmit information to a smartphone or a tablet, and scientists say that the device could eventually send data to doctors for remote monitoring.
The sensor was tested on three adults, who each wore it for up to a week, during which period they ate foods including crisps, juice and chicken soup.
It was found to work effectively for the liquid foods, but had a slightly harder time with the crisps – an issue which could be fixed through good data processing.
“We can unobtrusively and wirelessly measure the amount of sodium that people are taking in over time,” said Woon-Hong Yeo, an assistant professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the institute.
“By monitoring sodium in real time, the device could one day help people who need to restrict sodium intake and learn to change their eating habits and diet.”
He added: “Our device could have applications for many different goals involving eating behaviour for diet management or therapeutics.”
Next steps for the invention include making it even smaller, and exploring its application for other conditions such as obesity or diabetes.
Details about the device were given in science journal PNAS.