Pitt Researchers Develop Wearable Weight-Loss Device

Plus, Chatham introduces a new program for local businesswomen and RMU purchases a new building.


If you've ever turned to dieting as a way to lose weight, you've gone through the whole song and dance of counting calories and keeping a detailed journal. While these aspects of weight loss can be tedious, the rewards tend to be well worth the effort. Now, Pitt researchers are making it even easier to reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle with a new invention.

eButton, a wearable device about half the size of an iPhone, utilizes GPS cameras, accelerometers and various other sensors to capture information on food- and health-related activities.

“eButton was created to combat obesity, which has become a widespread problem in the United States,” says Mingui Sun, lead investigator and Pitt professor of neurosurgery and electrical and computer engineering.

Just because the device is designed to help you lose weight doesn't mean it quits working when you stop exercising; it can track how much time users spend on the computer or in front of the TV—in addition to where food is purchased, how it is prepared and even how the wearer interacts with people he or she dines with.

While all these functions may make the device sound complicated, researchers say retrieving information from it is no more difficult than transferring pictures from a digital camera.

Currently, eButton is not commercially available but is being utilized in pilot study, estimating the caloric intake and physical activity levels—and data from the device was featured in Eat Right, a publication of the American Dietetic Association.
—Rob McCoy, PM Editorial Intern


Everyone uses the Internet for different reasons—some for research, others for business and many for social networking. It was with those three aspects in mind that Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship (CWE) developed its online business-development and mentoring community aimed at assisting local women.

The purpose of the online hub is to help women grow their businesses while simultaneously networking with like-minded individuals as well as local experts in related fields.

“I like to think of it as a virtual golf course where great women get together, interact and get business done in the comfort of their own homes or offices,” says Rebecca Harris, director of the CWE.

The program, which costs $150 per year, will give users the necessary tools to assist them in networking and building partnerships, marketing, business-skills development, and education—among others. It will also give users access to personalized advice on various subjects.

Paid membership also comes with some added perks, including discounted admission to CWE events as well as access to various tools aimed at helping develop small businesses.


Robert Morris University saw record levels of undergraduate enrollment and requests for housing during this school year—which means a lot of students were in need of a place to stay. Fortunately, someone at RMU had a stroke of genius: Why not just check them into the Holiday Inn?

The Holiday Inn Pittsburgh Airport, just one mile from the university’s Moon Township campus, has been housing undergrads on dedicated floors since last fall; now, the university has purchased the building with goals of turning it into a permanent residence facility. After a transition period, the building could house up to 500 students on a full-time basis. No word on whether or not room service will continue, but it’d be a great idea for those all-nighters.
—Sean Collier, PM Associate Editor

Categories: Great Minds