Google Lens Cofounder’s New App Leverages AI for Caloric Estimation from Food Photos

by / ⠀News / June 26, 2023
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In today’s health-conscious society, keeping track of our nutritional intake has become more important than ever. However, accurately estimating the calorie content and macronutrient breakdown of a meal can be a challenging task. Enter SnapCalorie, a health-focused startup co-founded by Wade Norris, a former Google Lens engineer, and Scott Baron, an expert in the aerospace industry. This AI-powered app aims to revolutionize calorie counting by providing an accurate assessment of meals through a simple smartphone photo.

One of the biggest challenges in maintaining a healthy diet is accurately estimating the portion size and caloric content of the food we consume. Wade Norris recognized this problem during his time at Google and sought to develop a solution that could positively impact people’s lives. While there are existing computer vision-based apps for calorie counting, such as Calorie Mama, Lose It, Foodadvisor, and Bite.AI, SnapCalorie sets itself apart with its unique approach.

SnapCalorie combines various new technologies and algorithms to enhance the accuracy of calorie estimation. What sets it apart from its competitors is its utilization of depth sensors on supported devices to measure portion sizes. Additionally, SnapCalorie employs a team of human reviewers who provide an added layer of quality control. By leveraging these innovative features, SnapCalorie significantly reduces the caloric error to under 20% on average.

SnapCalorie’s algorithm utilizes AI and depth sensors to accurately identify the types of food in a photo and measure the portion size of each item. This combination allows for a more precise estimation of the caloric content of the meal. To train the algorithm, SnapCalorie created a unique dataset of 5,000 meals, capturing diverse and challenging conditions found in real-world scenarios. This involved taking thousands of photos of each meal using a robotic rig and weighing out every ingredient on a scale.

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While there is skepticism in the health industry regarding photo-driven calorie estimating tools, SnapCalorie has made significant advancements in accuracy. In a study comparing various AI-based calorie counters, SnapCalorie outperformed its competitors, achieving a higher accuracy rate. Norris attributes this success to SnapCalorie’s algorithm, which can outperform a person in estimating a food’s calories.

Initially biased toward American food due to the collection of training data, SnapCalorie is actively expanding its dataset to include other cultural cuisines. By incorporating photos from users and internal data, SnapCalorie aims to provide accurate caloric estimations for a wide range of culinary preferences.

While accurate calorie estimation is a key feature, SnapCalorie acknowledges that it is just one piece of the larger nutrition puzzle. The app offers additional features that enhance the user experience and provide valuable insights. One such feature is a ChatGPT-powered chatbot, which suggests meals based on user goals and preferences. SnapCalorie also boasts a comprehensive database of nutritional values, further empowering users to make informed choices about their dietary intake.

SnapCalorie’s user-friendly interface allows users to log their meals in a food journal or export the data to fitness-tracking platforms like Apple Health. This seamless integration with popular health and fitness apps makes it easier for individuals to track their nutritional intake and monitor their progress toward their health goals.

SnapCalorie’s value proposition has resonated well with consumers, leading to its rapid growth. The app is on track to gain over 1,000 new users this month alone, highlighting the increasing interest in understanding and monitoring nutritional intake. SnapCalorie’s popularity stems from its ability to provide valuable information, especially when dining out at establishments that do not provide nutritional value.

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While the company’s current focus is on expansion rather than monetization, SnapCalorie has secured $2 million in funding from investors including Accel, Index Ventures, former CrossFit CEO Eric Roza, and Y Combinator. This funding will support the company’s efforts to refine and enhance the app’s features while expanding its user base.

In conclusion, SnapCalorie is revolutionizing calorie counting by leveraging AI and depth sensors to provide accurate caloric estimations based on smartphone photos. With its unique algorithm, user-friendly interface, and additional features, SnapCalorie empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their nutritional intake. As the app continues to expand and refine its capabilities, it is poised to become an essential tool for anyone looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Reported first on Search Engine Land

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Becca Williams

Becca Williams is the editor of


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