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Today, the assessment of body composition by estimating the percentage of body fat has a central importance in health. The percentage of body fat is a relevant parameter for assessing the nutritional status of an individual, in the evaluation of growth, in analyzing disease impact, in studying the evolution of chronic diseases as is the case of patients under dialysis, in sports, HIV patients, etc. The measurement of skinfold thickness using a skinfold caliper is a simple, non-invasive and cost-effective method for assessing body composition, and it is specially adequate for individuals with metallic prostheses, joints, stents or pacemakers, as well as amputees and pregnant women, where other methods are not appropriate.

The existing calipers have experienced insufficient progress, suffering from various limitations and shortcomings, namely inconsistency in the data collecting process and in mechanical characteristics. In order to overcome many of these problems a new integrated system, named LipoTool, was designed and developed. It consists of a digital skinfold caliper (Adipsmeter) for measuring skinfold thickness, capable of bidirectional wireless communication with a personal computer software application (LipoSoft), integrating a database.

LipoTool (illustration 1) provides more effective assessment with greater accuracy, allowing automatic data processing and recording in a database, offering the user easy handling, not requiring technicians with high degree of expertise and even allowing conducting completely new studies using: dynamic system models, artificial neural network and genetic algorithms. It can be used in different fields as nutrition and medicine, sports, forensic sciences, veterinary medicine and livestock industry.

Adipsmeter (illustration 2) is a skinfold caliper, a digitally instrumented device developed in order to measure skinfold thickness and its dynamic response under compression. The skinfold calliper interacts with a software application, LipoSoft, and has novel technical characteristics when compared with those in the market. The apparatus ensures a constant pressure of 10 gf/mm2 with an error lower than 3% and has a resolution better than 0.1 mm, permits up to 60 samples per second and has wireless communication with the computer.

The LipoSoft (illustration 3) is an application which offers a user friendly graphical interface, an integrated database, a pictorial skinfold location and a great set of most used equations for determining the % of body fat. The interface is organized in three blocks: the database block, the measurement block and results block, making it intuitive, of effective use and informative.

This novelty justifies patent submissions (2010) at National and International levels and two national awards. It also got a silver medal in the 40th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva, 18 - 22 April 2012.
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  • Name:
    Maria Teresa Restivo
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    Carlos Silva
    Fátima Chouzal
    Manuel Quintas
    Maria Teresa Restivo
    Teresa Amaral
    Tiago Andrade
  • Software used for this entry:
    Solid Works; COSMOS; Matlab; CADSoft Eagle; MPLAB-IDE; C18 Compiler; Visual Studio 2008
  • Patent status: