A new Apple invention could prevent us from overeating using RFID tags

A new Apple invention could prevent us from overeating using RFID tags
The health-tracking capabilities are some of the most appealing features of the increasingly popular smart wearable devices, so no wonder that many of the mobile device vendors and manufacturers are also interested in this technology. Apple is also among them, and the HealthKit and the bio-metric solutions on both Apple Watches are good indicators for the company’s interest. Besides, Apple has been rumored to work on a full-fledged health-tracking device due to launch in 2017, and a new patent may pour more water in this rumor mill.

In general, this U.S. Patent No. 9,640,088 for "Electronic tag transmissions of custom-order nutritional information” describes a method of encoding RFID tags with information about one or more food items, including data such as caloric value, fat, sugar content, etc. After a tag is generated, it can be placed on a food package or receipt, and then read by an NFC-enabled mobile device like iPhone or Apple Watch.

The subsequent options are also intriguing. For example, a health monitoring app could compare the data to the user-assigned variables like a daily calorie budget and give recommendations based on the comparison. Apple’s patented technology even specifies techniques of estimating whether a user consumed part or all of a particular food item, so the app could potentially tell you almost the exact amount of the calories you’ve consumed with a great precision.

Why is this invention interesting? First of all, it could introduce an effective way for automating food-tracking by allowing retailers, or electronic vending machines, to assign precise nutritional information on a per-item basis. And in this way, as Apple Insider points out, the technology looks like a more capable alternative to current app-based solutions that rely on static databases of commonly consumed foods, general estimations of nutritional value or manual data input from users. 

In other words, the patented technology definitely sounds promising. Unfortunately, it still remains unclear if Apple is going to implement it in a future service or in the long rumored health-tracking device we mentioned above. It is not clear also if the food stores, restaurants and other vendors would like to invest in such a RFID technology that will require additional resource-consuming details like, for example, maintenance of a food nutrition database and employee training. 


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