IBM wins diet monitoring and reward patent, celebrates with sip of Spirulina

Sharif Sakr
S. Sakr|12.30.11

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IBM wins diet monitoring and reward patent, celebrates with sip of Spirulina
Does your employer offer a "wellness rebate program?" No? Then you can't be working for IBM, which has been bribing its staff to eat healthier since 2004. It's a Watson-worthy idea, because what the company pays out in incentives it recoups in lower healthcare costs. Now, after a decade of toing and froing with the USPTO, IBM has finally patented a web-based system that makes the whole process automatic. For it to work, a person must use a micro-payment network to buy food, which allows their purchases to be monitored and compared against their health records. If they've made the right choices, the system then communicates with their employer's payroll server to issue a reward. Completing the Orwellian circle, the proposed system also interacts with servers in the FDA and health insurance companies to gain information about specific food products or policy changes. You can duck the radar, of course, and buy a Double Whopper with cash, but it'll bring you no reward except swollen ankles. This is IBM we're talking about; they've thought of everything.

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