‘Internet of food’ could revolutionise personal nutrition: researcher

By Alice Foster contact

- Last updated on GMT

Professor Maged Boulos has shared his thoughts on the ‘internet of things’
Professor Maged Boulos has shared his thoughts on the ‘internet of things’

Related tags: Nutrition

The ‘internet of food’ could one day tell users what to eat based on their personal health needs, according to a digital health researcher. 

The concept was compared to the ‘internet of things’ where physical objects, such as fridges and lamps, become connected though sensors, electronics and software.   

Professor Maged Boulos, from the University of the Highlands and Islands, believes similar technology could also be harnessed to improve people’s diets. 

‘Individual’s health needs’​ 

“Such an ‘internet of food’ could provide context and user-specific diet insights and ‘intelligent’ recommendations based on individual’s health needs, circumstances and profiles at any given time,”​ he said. 

‘What’s the internet of things?’

“The internet of things means that, when physical objects, ‘things’, become connected, through electronics, software and sensors, they provide valuable data and insights.”

For example, a scanner could detect gluten in food and this information could be used to warn people with gluten intolerance not to eat it. 

“Such an application could also help to advise users about any essential ingredients lacking in their diet or about their intake of substances with cumulative toxicity so they can stay within recommended limits,” ​Boulos wrote on the university blog.

He suggested that people with diabetes might appreciate automated checks on the amounts of salt and saturated fats in their meals.

There was a huge rise in technology such as barcode scanners, portable electronic scales, smartphone cameras and handheld sensors that communicate with apps.

‘Automated food scanner’

“A new breed of ‘automated food scanner’ apps, devices and methods is emerging which aim at identifying the exact nature of food and drinks in our diet,” ​he said.

“However, these methods are of limited value if we cannot further reason with the identified food and drink items in the context of a user’s health conditions and preferences.”

He said the goal was to progress beyond identifying what was on the user’s plate, to making recommendations based on how healthy the food was for the individual.

For more information please see his blog post​ here.

Meanwhile, read how the ‘internet of things’​ is set to shape food and drink manufacturing next year.

Don’t miss the Food Manufacture Group’s New Frontiers in Food and Drink conference​ on March 17 2016 in central London.

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