A lot of impressive technology has come from the IBM corporation since its inception in 1911, but a new patented product from the company may be stealing the headlines this summer.
Inventor Michael Paolini has created a program for dieters that will both incentivize dieting through monetary means as well as provide users immediate feedback as to how their dietary choices are affecting their weight loss goals.
The Lead-up to the IBM Patent
The program, meant to be played competitively with friends or co-workers, was partly inspired by the same logic behind television’s “Biggest Loser” diet plan—make the grueling process of dieting more fun by getting others involved.
“People post their daily weight or eating habits to online social groups,” Paolini told the New York Times. “What they get from this is sometimes encouragement, sometimes suggestions, and sometimes a swift boot to the butt to help put them back on the right path.”
IBM employee Paolini and his co-workers first began kicking around the idea of an incentive-based, group diet plan in 1999. After a lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s, Paolini and his fellow engineers began to discuss how their poor eating habits were leading to larger guts.
Deciding to lose weight, the engineers created a program where participants would be monetarily rewarded for eating well. Ten years later, the program has been patented.
How the IBM Program Works
The system works in a fairly straight-forward way. The program provides monetary rewards to people who eat well and exercise regularly, while simultaneously giving feedback on calorie consumption and other health indexes.
To use the program, you have to submit your own reports on what you’ve been eating and how much you’ve been exercising. The system then reports your caloric intake and offers rewards in terms of money—ten cents for a salad at lunch, for example.
When you plug in your dietary choices, the program will let you know how your food affects your health. It can offer healthier and more rewarding suggestions, or you can simply accept what you’ve decided to eat for the day.
The IBM program even offers guidance—for people following a vegan or Kosher diet, there is programming available to help find healthy alternatives within the bounds of acceptable foods.
Other Things That Can Help Weight Loss
Of course, diet and exercise can only go so far in facilitating lasting weight loss. Once you’ve become accustomed to a certain lifestyle, your body can have a hard time adjusting and you can hit a roadblock fast.
If you’re serious about losing weight, you might consider a weight loss supplement that will help you burn fat, increase your metabolism, and suppress your appetite so that when you plug in your dietary choices, you won’t be ashamed of your portion size.
Of course, the industry is flush with products that make these kinds of promises, so it’s important to read reviews and information on diet pills like Apidexin, Hydroxycut, and LipoFuze before you take out your wallet.
You’re already paying money to be involved in competitive dieting with your friends, after all.
What Happens Next
Paolini hopes his diet program will be adopted in the workplace, where it will not only help office workers lose weight, but provide useful information to employers.
By feeding the information to the company’s health insurance provider, health-conscious employees could benefit from lower costs and premiums.
However, there is always the possibility that employees will report false information for benefits. And even if they didn’t, health insurance companies could take advantage.
“The patent drives good behavior, but like anything, it has the possibility of abuse,” said managing director of the marketing company I2I Paul Herbert. “Health insurance providers could theoretically start to use the program as leverage. In other words, ‘Use the program with your employees or pay a higher premium.’”
This caution also applies to your circle of friends—when this program becomes available, make sure you’re playing with people you know to be honest. You don’t want to lose your money on misreported claims.