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Potato Vs. French Fries...(arggh!)

The Ruth Lilly Health Education Center is using a "Nutrition Calculator" developed at Indiana University that uses RFID technology to identify models of food placed on a cafeteria tray. Each food model is embedded with a RFID tag, and the tray is a RFID reader antenna. The computer then pulls the food's nutritional value from the USDA database on the internet. The image of the food, along with a graphical representation of its nutrients are then displayed on an overhead monitor for the class participants to see. From IU Home Pages:

A student can pick up food models and place them on a cafeteria tray. The Radio Frequency Identification computer interface allows children to compare the fat content in a baked potato to that of a serving of French fries. With varying size food models, they learn about food portions and nutritional content. Before the new system was installed, teachers typed in code numbers for each food item (gasp!) and relied on photos to display nutrition information. Now, no mouse, keyboard or barcode scanning is required. "Innovative and hands-on, this new nutrition application helps to further our goal of reaching students in ways not easily replicated in the classroom," said Julian Peebles, president of the RLHEC.


OK. They weren't using barcodes before...but this is better? The reader has to cost a lot more than the $200 or so a good hand-held scanner would cost. I know this was most likely developed by the students at the university, but isn't an understanding of economics part of preparation for an engineering career?