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This Sensor Keeps You From Cheating On Your Diet

LAS VEGAS — Diet tracking is the most tedious part of using any fitness or health app. You have to scroll through endless lists of food before you find the one you're eating, and then guess how much of it you're consuming. DietSensor hopes to eliminate this pain point by using a small scanner that can instantly analyze what you're eating — and if you should even be putting it in your mouth.

DietSensor's app pairs via Bluetooth with the Scio sensor, which has a small infrared light on one end. When placed against your food, it analyzes the colors reflected by the light, and then compares it to DietSensor's database to determine what's on your plate. Within the app, it shows the how much carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are in what you've scanned, and counts it against your recommended daily intake.

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DietSensor was founded in 2014 by Astrid Assier de Pompignan and her husband Remy Bonnasse after they discovered how time-consuming it was to log all the food for their 9-year-old daughter Victoria, who has Type 1 diabetes. By having to take time out of each day to track in detail what Victoria was eating, they found it detracted from her leading a normal life.

As both the app and the sensor are still in final production — they won't be available until mid-2016 — DietSensor is still tweaking its algorithm to be able to recognize different types of foods. Currently, it only can accurately scan breakfast foods, but the company is working on adding rice and pasta to the mix. In the future, the company will also release a pocket-size scale, so that you can weigh your food on the go, too.

Another limitation is that the Scio sensor can only scan homogenous foods, such as a piece of bread or an apple. For instance, it can't analyze all the different ingredients in a double bacon cheeseburger. However, you can still enter complex foods such as that manually into the app, and DietSensor has a large library in its database, comparable to what you'll find with Fitbit. It will also recognize bar codes from prepackaged foods.

You can configure the DietSensor app based on your needs and nutritional requirements; the app sends notifications and advice based on what you've consumed during the day.

Although DietSensor can be used by anyone who wants greater information about what they eat, those who have a medical condition such as diabetes, hypertension, or are overweight, and need to precisely monitor their intake, will get the most benefit from the app and sensor. The Scio sensor will cost $249 when it goes on sale. A basic version of the app will be free, but a premium version, which lets you connect to the sensor, will require a monthly subscription of anywhere from $10 to $20.

Apart from the app, which could be very beneficial for those on strict diets, the Scio scanner is very interesting technology in itself, and could have lots of uses outside of food tracking. However, this first application is very practical — and potentially very helpful.

Mike Prospero

Michael A. Prospero is the deputy editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing the home, smart home, drones, and fitness/wearables categories, as well as all buying guides and other evergreen content. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine or some other cooking gadget.