Ginger Poached Chicken with Soba Noodle Salad

3D Calorie Counting

NutriRay3DOne of the toughest problems in nutrition and obesity is getting an accurate estimate of what people are eating. Without good measures of food intake, it’s tough to make good nutrition assessments or sound recommendations. 3D calorie counting is an intriguing possibility for solving this problem.

Scientists at the University of Washington developed technology that utilizes laser scanning and 3-D imaging with a smartphone to provide estimates of the calories and nutrition profile of food you are ready to eat. The original purpose was for nutritional epidemiology in cancer research. The inventors are now adapting their technology for consumers and branding it with the name NutriRay3D. Through Indiegogo, you can donate $199 to the NutriRay3D crowdfunding campaign and claim dibs on one of these consumer devices as early as September.

The developers say that their system is 87-91% accurate. Regardless of the theoretical accuracy of this technology, it’s likely that the weak link will lie with the user. If people don’t capture everything they consume, accuracy will suffer just as it does with food diaries.

More broadly, a recent review of image-assisted dietary assessment found that it has promise, but more work is definitely needed to validate these methods. For accuracy, we expect systems that are entirely passive will eventually deliver the best data. But those technologies will require some patience while they mature.

Click here, here, and here to read more about the NutriRay3D system.

Ginger Poached Chicken with Soba Noodle Salad, photograph © Amelia Crook / flickr

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January 21, 2016