It is no doubt that Google is one of the most powerful companies on earth. They have also been proving to be very advanced technologically as well. Last year, they had acquired an artificial intelligence company named DeepMind for $400 million. The engineers from the company were able to develop a computer program that dominated old-school Atari games. They currently have Geoffrey Hinton under their wing who through his guidance and knowledge on artificial intelligence may help propel them forward in this field. The recent announcement of a new technology in the works by Google is the same as having a pocket nutritionist. Im2calories, the name of the program, uses AI to determine the calorie count of a dish by just snapping a picture of it. The program examines pixels and uses complex algorithms to arrive at its answer.
How cool is that announcement? A technology that can count the calories in food simply through a picture. It is like having a mobile nutritionist. Weight loss and six packs are what is hot right now. The fitness and health industry have been booming, and Google wants to capitalize on it. It is a very smart business move. It takes away the headaches of reading the label of every ingredient that is being used to cook a lunch or dinner then measuring the quantities. It can also help alleviate the nuisance of asking the waiter at a restaurant for the nutrition guide then scanning the small text to find the ordered dish. For the extremely lazy ones, say good-bye to manually inserting the calories on a log because this technology is planning to log everything on its own.
The program is designed to learn as it goes. It gets better with each use – the same way Apple’s SIRI works. Kevin Murphy, a scientist at Google admitted that there is still around a 20 percent margin of error. He is still excited as many should be about this new technology. Some have posted their own opinions about how Google’s new pocket nutritionist may not be such a bright idea. Some argue that calorie counting is outdated and that people should be more focused on quality of food versus quantity of food. While that may be true, there is no arguing that weight loss comes down to calories-in, calories-out at the end of the day.
Im2Calories can be a big help for those who are just getting into weight loss. Knowledge of the best ingredients, what speeds up metabolism, the dangers of gluten, etc. don’t happen overnight (unless that person is a research-junkie). When most people start losing weight, common knowledge and the easiest way to ease into it is simply eating less. With the new program, it can lend a hand to give the person a rough idea of how many calories they are about to consume.
Competitive bodybuilders are known to count their calories down to the macro nutrient. They have a very specific calorie count they aim to hit. The new program can help them out as well as those who are more health-conscious. Although it is stated the program can be off by about 20 percent at times, it can also be modified which will in turn teach the AI to learn from it’s mistake. That is the magic of AI, it can learn through trial and error just like a human mind is capable of. For those who find it hard to keep a journal without losing it, Im2Calories can be a great replacement.
Although no specific release date has been announced for the program, a patent for it has been filed. The pocket nutritionist Google is planning on releasing will be a great addition to the health apps included in a lot of Android phones. This sure will be an exciting release for many health enthusiasts.
Opinion By Frank Grados
Daily Mail – Count calories using PHOTOS: Google’s Im2Calories app will reveal nutritional value of meals from your Instagram snaps
Popular Science: Google’s A.I. Is Training Itself to Count Calories In Food Photos
Photo Courtesy of Pete’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License