New technology has arrived to suck all the fun out of millennials’ incessant food photography by revealing the nutritional content of that beautiful slice of cheesecake.
A weight loss app called Lose It just launched a new beta feature called Snap It that enables users to log how many calories they’re consuming by taking photos of their food, TechCrunch reports.
For now, it will require at least a little work from users: After submitting a food photo, the app will briefly analyze it, then offer a few guesses as to what was in the photo. Users then pick the correct one and can add more detail — such as whether a sushi roll contains white or brown rice — and provide an approximate serving size to determine a final calorie count.
A cursory test of the Snap It feature quickly reveals why it’s still in beta: While the app had no trouble identifying the leftover pizza in my fridge, and was even able to figure out that some lumpy brown shapes in my kitchen cabinet were chocolate-covered almonds, it had trouble with other common items: When I snapped a photo of Ritz crackers on a plate, its guesses included ravioli and doughnuts (but not crackers), and thought a bowl of Lays potato chips could be guacamole. Its best guess for a beefsteak tomato? Applesauce.
But TechCrunch explains that “Lose It! built Snap It as a neural network that gets smarter over time, or better able to identify foods in photos and their portions automatically.” For now it’s working with a database of around 100,000 images and claims to be up to 97 percent accurate within that, but “as users contribute more images and descriptions, Snap It should become even more precise.”
For those gleefully Instagramming doughnuts and and fried egg-topped burgers, ignorance is probably bliss when it comes to caloric content — but for people actively trying to lose weight by calorie counting, tracking every morsel they put into their mouths can be exhausting, and this could — eventually — prove faster and easier than manually logging every single item.
The weight loss app is facing some stiff competition in the race to determine nutritional content from food photos: News surfaced last summer that Google is working on similar technology called Im2Calories. Will Instagram photos of ridiculous milkshakes get fewer likes if people can tell at a glance they contain a zillion calories?