Calorie conscious eaters can put away their calculators and pull up their smartphone cameras. Meal Snap, a new app iPhone app by DailyBurn, tells users how many calories are in the food items they photograph using the app.
Hardcore counters, beware: The app’s calorie counts don’t account for serving size and seem to be averages for the food category rather than a calculation of the specific food item (i.e. “turkey sandwich” rather than “turkey sandwich with one slice of cheese and mayonnaise”). They are, however, generally similar to the range that might be included in a calorie counting reference book.
DailyBurn CEO Andy Smith is mum on how the app actually works, referring to it the same way that the Meal Snap website does: “Magic.” He does say that there are both humans and algorithms in the secret sauce and that DailyBurn’s experience building more old-fashioned calorie counting apps helped provide information that makes the photo app possible. Somehow the company seems to have paired an optical recognition system with its existing nutrition information database.
The app doesn’t always identify food correctly, and sometimes calorie counts are too broad to be useful. But users can rate accuracy of each food identification and calorie count, ostensibly helping to improve the optical recognition component. Manually labeling food photos also makes the results more accurate.
But accuracy isn’t the point, Smith says. Intentionally keeping a record of the foods that one eats is the biggest advantage of calorie counting. With the Meal Snap app, users automatically collect a visual food diary as they count calories — even if those counts are aiming for a ballpark rather than a bull’s-eye.
How Meal Snap Works:
- Snap a photo of your meal.
- Add a descriptive caption, if you are so inclined.
- Let the system auto-magically detect the nutritional breakdown.
- Keep track of your meals & progress over time.
Other Awesome Features:
- Share your meals on Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.
- View estimated calories for each meal and the full day.
- Browse back in time to view your logged meals.
- Categorize your meals into Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, etc.
The app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later and it is available for $2.99 in the app store….