Apps and gadgets designed to track what you eat and help you maintain a more healthy diet have a bit of a spotty record—primarily because they are only as accurate as the people using them. They rely almost entirely on self-reporting. But a company called Fitly has made a smart plate designed to automate the process of tracking your eating habits and also keep you from lying to yourself about exactly how many doughnuts you ate yesterday.
The device, appropriately called SmartPlate, combines all the pieces needed for dietary tracking into one gadget. Fitly equipped the plate with cameras and trained the plate to recognize thousands of different foods. And while that database isn’t complete—the recognition software will get better as more people use it—it can already perform some impressive tasks like distinguishing between white bread and wheat bread as you can see in the demo below.
The plate’s creators say that they are already adding mixed foods likes salads into the algorithm, and soon the plate will recognize the percentages of different produce you’re having for lunch. It will even be able to assess the nutritional content of more complicated foods like burritos, provided you cut into them so the camera can get a look inside.
Once the SmartPlate figures out what you’re eating, it weighs the ingredients on a built-in scale and sends the nutritional information to a growing food diary of your meals. Then, as you continue to use it, the plate will make recommendations for what you should or shouldn’t be eating based on your diet goals. It will even warn you to slow down if you’re shoveling food in your face too quickly (it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you’re full, so eating fast is a good way to eat too much).
The company just launched a crowdfunding campaign and hopes to raise $100,000 to get a first run of SmartPlates produced. Early contributors can get a plate, which will typically retail for $199, for just $99.
Like most new technology, the SmartPlate has its limitations—if you eat two dozen Oreos straight from the package, it won’t know what you’re doing. But for people willing to take the time to actually subject their food to the plate’s analysis, it could help keep them on track.