Alternative Solution

An alternative solution that was brainstormed during class discussions would be to invent an interactive, body-worn device that gave real-time updates about an individual’s health after the consumption of food. Although this idea was not fully examined by our group (but may serve as a great starting point for future groups attempting to tackle a similar grand challenge), some of the group members took the time to check out the latest laser and imaging technology at the Beckman Laser Institute on the campus of UC Irvine. Dr. Tromberg, the director of the institute, and his tebeckman_0am set up a few demos demonstrating the latest laser optics technology that have biomedical applications. The first machine they showed us was able to detect subcutaneous amounts of lipids, water, deoxyhemoglobin, and oxyhemoglobin through a noninvasive technique of shining infrared lasers through the skin and turning the lasers on and off about half a billion times per second. This machine was also able to demonstrate changes in oxygen transport to the area as the muscle was flexed and relaxed. In terms of applications to our grand challenge of using nutrition to combat disease and obesity, this device, along with a few others that they showed us, appear to have vast amounts of potential. Since the device is able to give live readings of subcutaneous molecules,  perhaps a future development could be to use this technology to detect and track nutrients post-digestion. In other words, an individual would be able to apply this technology to their abdominal area to produce a nutrientsimple.b-cssdisabled-png.hdfb1e43d0b1a45bb7247e6d361e4d026 content output. Then, the individual would use the technology on other parts of the body to track where these nutrients traveled and whether they were stored or used immediately. This would help counter both obesity and disease by helping people to be more aware of how much of their food intake is stored as fat and also tracking which nutrients travel to which parts of the body (i.e. cancerous/vital regions). If enough people used this technology, large amounts of data could be collected and applied to facilitate further research and discoveries. Clearly, this potential solution requires many more advancements in the area of wearable health devices, however, our trip to the Beckman Laser Institute exemplified that there is a promising future.