eButton knows if you're a workout warrior or a slug

Prototype gadget is a combination of GPS, accelerometer, camera, and sensors that track everything from time spent at the computer to where you eat out.

eButton fitness gadget
Can you tell this device was created in Pittsburgh? University of Pittsburgh

New fitness technology products like Fitbit and Jawbone Up are aimed at pushing healthier lifestyles. The eButton isn't yet ready for prime time, but the University of Pittsburgh project really knows how to get all up in your business.

The eButton tracks all those little details that you would hesitate to confess to your personal trainer. The device combines a miniature camera, accelerometer, GPS, and a set of sensors into a gadget that you wear pinned to your chest.

The eButton is kind of like the Santa Claus of fitness tools. It knows if you've been out jogging or if you haven't gotten up from the couch since that "Battlestar Galactica" marathon started 12 hours ago.

It also knows which restaurants you go to, if you're drinking a lot of soda, and even how much interaction you have with your family over dinner. Data is kept coded for privacy reasons, but it can be easily transferred to a computer for analysis.

The aim is to track all of the factors that go into staying in shape. It's more than just how many steps you take in a day or the calorie count of the salad you had for lunch.

Mingui Sun, lead investigator and professor of neurosurgery and electrical and computer engineering, is one of the creators of the eButton. "We have to take into account how people live, not only what they eat or how they exercise at the gym," Sun said in a release about the project. The eButton research was funded by a National Institutes of Health grant.

You don't have to worry about the eButton following you around like a high-tech stalker just yet, though. It's still in prototype form and is currently being used in a pilot study to test its effectiveness.

 

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