Google Might Be Able To Count The Calories In Your Food Photos Soon, But These Other Features Might Be More Useful

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, according to the Boston Medical Center — and even though eating a well-balanced diet is only one part of getting into shape, there might be a new, tech-savvy way to go about that aspect of it soon: Google's AI is learning to count calories in food photos. Good thing? Bad thing? Complicated thing? Let's take a closer look.

It's worth noting that calorie counting as a weight loss method isn't all it's cracked up to be. It can be a useful way to learn about portion size, and it's true that it's not always about what you eat, but how much you eat... but science has proven that crash and fad diets don't work. It's much more important that you work on filling your diet with whole grains, veggies, and other good stuff, rather than simply cutting out calories. As such, Google being able to tell you exactly how many calories is in that sandwich you just posted on Instagram may not be the good news you might think it is. The technology, though? Well, that's still pretty interesting.

"At this week's Rework Deep Learning Summit in Boston, Google research scientist Kevin Murphy unveiled a project that uses sophisticated deep learning algorithms to analyze a still photo of food, and estimate how many calories are on the plate. It's called Im2Calories, " said Erik Sofge of Popular Science.

Im2Calories identifies foods on sight so you don't have to manually enter them anywhere, taking the guesswork out of serving sizes and other variables. You can also correct the software with dropdown that confuses things like "fried eggs for poached," said Kevin Murphy. He added, “If it only works 30 percent of the time, it's enough that people will start using it, we'll collect data, and it'll get better over time." Unfortunately, though, this is a long term goal for Google AI and the planned release date is unknown.

Like I said before, calorite counting in and of itself isn't really that great; indeed, there's a bunch of reasons why going on "diets" can actually be unhealthy. So, I was thinking, while Im2Calories is in the works, maybe there are some other features Google can think about adding for those who don't just want to count every calorie that goes into their mouths:

1. Instant Recipe Deduction

Who wouldn't want to be able t learn how to make what's on the plate in front of us after just snapping a picture?

2. Ingredient Analysis

Maybe we're trying a new food and are concerned about a particular allergy. Taking a photo of our meal and having our phone let us know if it could possibly contain a harmful ingredient would be super helpful.

3. Restaurant Services

Maybe we really want to try this dish again but at a different restaurant next time? Or maybe something went wrong when we were making dinner and we need a quick fix? If the app saved the location of each dish we took we could just sign on in and order some calamari to go.

4. Thematically Appropriate Soundtracks

Song lyrics that relate to our meal? Cause why not?

5. The Best Way To Add Bacon To Our Plate

No reason necessary.

Images: Giphy (6)