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Google Wants to Count Calories in Your Foodporn Photos

Soon, posting a photo of your meal to Instagram could be a way to stay healthy. At the Rework Deep Learning Summit in Boston, Google researcher Kevin Murphy announced plans for an artificial-intelligence program called Im2Calories, which would estimate the number of calories in a photograph by analyzing the food depicted in it.

The process would start with an image of food, much like the many Instagram postings we see of fabulous brunches and delectable desserts. Murphy explained that the AI technology could analyze the depth of pixels in one of those images and then use "sophisticated deep-learning algorithms" to roughly identify the food on the plate and estimate the amount. Then, it could calculate just about how many calories is in that meal.

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According to Popular Science, Google has filed a patent for the software. With food diary apps such as MyFitnessPal hugely popular, there's no doubt a program like Im2Calories would be a hit. But most of the food-tracking apps available now require users to manually enter what they ate during a day, which is tedious and leaves a lot of room for human error or willful omission. Im2Calories is unique because it could simplify food tracking, especially for those who already love to take photos of their meals before digging in.

Calorie-counting can be dubious and inaccurate, but Murphy explained that the program doesn't always have to be 100 percent correct to still help people track their consumption.

The Guardian quoted Murphy as saying, "To me it's obvious that people really want this and this is really useful. OK fine, maybe we get the calories off by 20 percent. It doesn’t matter. We're going to average over a week or a month or a year."

A Google representative told CNet that the algorithms are still being researched and there are no production plans in place yet for Im2Calories.

Valentina Palladino is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Follow her at @valentinalucia. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide and on Facebook.