Researchers at UCLA have developed WearSens, a necklace that is designed to monitor your eating to help you achieve health goals. The device places a sensor above your sternum that can detect what and how much you eat and drink. Testing on 30 subjects found that it could differentiate between solids and liquids with 87% accuracy.

Furthermore, the necklace can detect the difference between hot and cold drinks 90% of the time. According to the researchers, the accuracy will improve even further as individual users calibrate the system for their own use. The team leader created the device because many people lose interest in keeping food journals up to date, and are not always accurate in the portion sizes. The device relies on faint vibrations generated as you eat, and piezoelectric sensors convert this motion into electrical currents that can be detected and analyzed. Different foods and beverages produce different signature patterns, and thus can be identified. A smartphone app can then display a record of the user’s eating and drinking over a period of time, and can make suggestions to encourage or alter the behavior in order to reach targeted health goals.

This is just one more example of the novel use of sensors to detect useful information about health-related information. The researchers hope to turn the WearSens into a commercial product later this year.