Tracking the world around us through technology has always been an area of interest. From the very first steps, our ability to measure things such as temperature, pressure and electricity soon gave us the capacity to measure blood pressure, body temperature, neural impulses among other valuable markers.
Now, in 2015, technological advances have made it possible for us to track not only the world around us, but the outcome of the world within us, that is, behavior. Using technology to track behavior allows us to move away from the limitations of subjective techniques and instead gather sensitive, objective data about a given action.
Undoubtedly, many fields can benefit from the introduction of a new perspective on behavior. Such a field is eating behavior. Decades of research on this topic from disciplines as diverse as physiology, psychology, neuroscience, consumer research, economics, or anthropology have made remarkable contributions, but still major limitations remain. A central challenge is the lack of objective methodologies to assess how humans eat in the laboratory and in real life.
Eating behavior has a major influence on food intake, nutrition and overall health. Finding more sensitive, quantitative methodologies to study human eating behavior could improve the efficacy of interventions to promote healthy eating and treatments for obesity and eating disorders.
Merging scientific knowledge of eating behavior with contemporary cutting-edge technological advances can potentially enhance our current impact and capacity to understand and modify eating behavior. The integration of technology can bring profound improvements in the precision of the field.
The quantification of eating behavior is a subset of a bigger ambition of the quantified self: A state in which machine driven data provide us with information and feedback about our behaviors and physiology. A growing number of consumer tools are offering ways of quantifying aspects of ingestion. Bite counters, chew monitors, smart forks among many other devices and inventions have already started making the quantification of eating behavior a daily reality. However, the science behind the application of the said devices still remains incomplete. In 2015, the integration between science and technology in this field seems more timely than ever.