A picture is worth 1,000 what?

February 15, 2012 – 6:10 PM | By Amanda Pedersen | No comments yet

We already know that a picture is worth a thousand words, but did you know it might also be worth a thousand calories? A new smartphone application is being developed at Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana) to help the health and diet conscious track their caloric intake by taking a picture of their food.

This caught my attention for two reasons: One, I’m sort of turning into a health-app junkie. I am currently tracking every bite of food, every visit to the bathroom, every headache, my sleep patterns, and my menstrual cycle. Oh yeah, and I check on my heart rate once in a while too – all with my beloved iPhone. Secondly, there are already dozens of fitness and calorie tracking apps but none, to my knowledge, that can identify the type of food, amount of food, and nutritional value with simply a picture of it. That’s what this one promises to do.

As someone with significant dietary restrictions, I can certainly see how an app like this would come in handy for anyone with food-related health challenges, like diabetes.

Purdue’s app is being developed as an interdisciplinary project. They have a professor of electrical and computer engineering in charge of the imaging software development that is supposed to automatically identify the foods in the images. They also have a professor in the Department of Agriculture and Biological Engineering in charge of the food density part of the application in order for the app to be able to determine the nutritional value.

So will it work? I don’t know, but I’ll keep an eye out for it to become available and will let you know.


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