Codenamed Im2Calories, the potential tool was announced at the Rework Deep Learning Summit last week. According to a report by Popular Science, Google researcher Kevin P 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.’ In one such example, the system looked at an image and counted ‘two eggs, two pancakes and three strips of bacon.’ Even though these food stuffs are not universal units of measurement, the system could gauge the size of each piece of food in relation to the plate, along with any condiments as well.
Murphy says, “To me it’s obvious that people really want this and this is really useful.” He agrees that the AI may not get the calorie content correct in the first few attempts but it will improve when more people use it and share the results. Murphy did not share details as to when the new tool will be available.
During the presentation, he stated that, “We semi-automate. 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”. Users can correct the software as well if they go wrong identifying certain foods for example, if it confuses fried eggs for poached eggs.
Murphy does not aim to shame users with the new system but wants to simply the ‘process of keeping a food diary and identifying foods’. This turns out to be much easier than manually feeding information to a food app which includes portions of food, type of food and so on.
It is believed that Im2Calories can be popular, specifically in the US as obesity remains a crisis. Even if Im2Calories is never completely accurate, Murphy thinks that the new system will have an impact.
In conversation with CNET, Google spokesman Jason Freidenfelds said that Im2Calories and the algorithms that run it are still at the research stage and that there are ‘no actual product plans at this stage.’
However, a report by The Verge pointed out Google’s smart food diary as actually, ‘kind of dumb’. Though it states that there is no questioning Google’s ability to collect and process data from a large number of users, it might face its biggest challenge which is revolves around how unreliable calorie counting really is.