A Calorie Tracking Image Recognition App Keeps Portions Under Control

Worried that you've piled your plate too high at the buffet? Researchers at SRI—the folks who created Siri before Apple bought it—are working on a new app that uses image recognition and clever AI to provide a fairly accurate estimate of the calories you're about to consume.

Similar apps already exist, but they either rely on sophisticated and expensive analysis hardware, or they farm the work out to humans via mechanical turk services. SRI hopes for complete independence with its app, based on a photo taken by the user, and other useful data a smartphone can provide.

For example, if you snap a photo of a burger and your smartphone knows you happen to be dining in a Shake Shack, calorie info can automatically be pulled from a database already containing nutritional info for that restaurant's menu. The app can also simply ask the user for clarification on certain items, but overall the goal is to have it be as streamlined as possible.

And while it can never be 100 percent accurate—it can't tell if it's ground turkey hiding under that burger bun instead of ground beef—a rough estimate can still be incredibly useful for those on a diet, or athletes needing to closely monitor their food intake. Now if only it included an in-app purchase that made frosting calorie-free. [Gigaom via Foodbeast]