ASU professors, students create Breezing device to maintain healthy weight

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Researchers at the ASU Biodesign Institute designed a portable metabolism reader called Breezing that is set for release in May 2013. The user breathes into the device, and an app on their smartphone or tablet logs in metabolism, the body’s energy source, total engery expenditure, metabolic and weight history. (Photo by Ana Ramirez)

ASU professors and students developed and created a portable metabolic reader that will be out on the market in May.

The pocket-sized device, Breezing, analyzes the user’s inhalations and records the number of calories they burn each day, whether these are from carbohydrates, fats or both, and it keeps track of a person’s metabolism over time.

The device can be pre-ordered on Indiegogo for $250 and uses indirect calorimetry, which measures energy expenditures by seeing how much oxygen is consumed and how much carbon dioxide is produced.


Chemical engineering professor Erica Forzani, co-founder of the company, said this method of measurement is recommended by the World Health Organization as a way to manage and treat obesity.

Compared to this method, traditional metabolic measurements can be heavy, expensive and less accessible to the general public, she said.

“Breezing is the first metabolism tracker that can be used anywhere and anytime,” Forzani said.

The information collected by Breezing is transmitted to an application that can be downloaded on any Android-based cell phone or tablet. The team is working to develop an app that is supported by iPhones and iPads. The app can be pre-ordered on Indiegogo for $2.

Forzani said Breezing is the first of its kind because most devices only keep track of a person’s exercise routines.

She said it is important to keep track of metabolism, because it allows people to measure if they are taking in too few or too many calories.

Everyone’s metabolism is different, and it can change over time depending on gene, age, weight and body composition,” Forzani said. “Knowing our metabolism tells us how many calories we should be eating to maintain, lose or gain weight.”

The company is using Indiegogo, an international crowdfunding site, to help generate money for the project. People can use this site to purchase Breezing, buy the mobile app and donate money to the campaign.

While one of our aims is fundraising, our larger goal is to reach a broader audience,” Forzani said. “We want as much feedback as possible to make Breezing even better for the future.”

Researchers Francis Tsow, Nongjian Tao, Erica Forzani and Xiaojun Xian of ASU Biodesign Institute are the creators of Breezing. (Photo by Ana Ramirez)

Researchers Francis Tsow, Nongjian Tao, Erica Forzani and Xiaojun Xian of ASU Biodesign Institute are the creators of Breezing. (Photo by Ana Ramirez)

President and co-founder Nongjian “NJ” Tao said they set their funding goal at $100,000 so they can mass-produce Breezing and develop a mobile app that is supported by all platforms. So far, the campaign has raised more than $8,000.

(The company has) been working hard to reduce the cost of Breezing without compromising the quality,” he said. “Our goal is to make it affordable to everyone, and we launched the campaign to reach mass production, which will reduce the cost.”

Biomedical engineering graduate student David Jackemeyer first got involved with the project when he was asked to participate as a test subject, making sure the sensors in the device worked properly.

Jackemeyer models the device for potential buyers, such as personal trainers, and provides feedback about the device and the Android mobile app on Internet forums.

His role in the project is that of a user, meaning that he uses the device and documents his measurements in order to see progress over a period of six months.

“The key question is, ‘How does my lifestyle affect that reading over a long period of time?’” he said.

Electrical engineering graduate student Christopher MacGriff said Forzani brought him on as a consultant on the project.

MacGriff helps promote and market the product and goes to different gyms and clinics to get feedback from users and potential buyers.

“For many, it is the first time they have a personal measurement tool,” he said. “We want to collect as much information as possible in order to make Breezing as useful as possible. So far, we’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback.”

Tao said the company’s main goal is to prevent and treat obesity in order to prevent other disease.Obesity Solutions, an ongoing partnership between ASU and the Mayo Clinic that challenges students, faculty and staff to create solutions for growing obesity trends, shares the same goal. The creators of Breezing have not entered their device in the competition.

Obesity affects more than a quarter of the American population and has become a leading health problem worldwide,” Tao said. “We believe that our technology can play an important role in the (Obesity Solutions) effort by providing people with a new tool to manage and maintain a healthy weight.”

 

Reach the reporter at ppineda@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @paulinapineda22