Google is developing A.I. to count the calories in your food photos

I am from a family of foodies, and I also have many foodie friends.  We just love food and we love to take pictures of food to share with those who share the same passion.  A major downside for loving food is consuming too many calories, which is a major problem in the U.S.  We have access to thousands and thousands of ingredients and most of us have no idea how many calories are in each ingredient.  A single tablespoon of peanut butter can contain up to 200 calories!  Not only is it difficult to try to memorize ingredients and their calorie content, it is also extremely difficult to judge serving size as there is no standard to adhere to.  Trying to count calories is extremely difficult and also extremely inaccurate.

10 years ago if you wanted to keep track of your calories, you kept it in a food diary and then you would have to go and look up how many calories were in each item that you consumed.  Fast forward to today and we have apps where we can input our intake and the app will have the appropriate caloric info, but again this is based on an individual’s ability to assess serving size.  It’s an improvement but it is not an exact science by any means.

In comes Google to save the day.  Google has been working on developing artificial intelligence, and it has been a relatively secret program until now.  According to Popular Science, their latest A.I. involves counting calories in food photos.  At the Rework Deep Learning Summit in Boston, Google revealed that they are developing a project called Im2Calories.  This project involves lots of math and algorithms that can analyze caloric content in food photos.  Fortunately you will not need a high-end camera to make this work, and standard resolution photo qualifies to be analyzed.

The true genius behind this project is that it should get better with use, and that process is called “deep-learning”.  Rather than have programmers input information into the project, A.I. should take over and should improve on its own. Google has yet to reveal when this technology will be available, but during the presentation it was shown to estimate calories on pancakes, eggs, and bacon, which is a very common American breakfast.  I would like to see health insurance companies invest in this technology as well, in hopes to help us make better decisions about our food choices.

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