I have an app for my smartphone where I can put in what I'm eating and it will help me track my caloric intake for the day. It's a great tool that's valuable, especially for those (like me) who spend the entire workday (and more) mostly sedentary in front of a keyboard.
For my app, I need to input what I eat and how much of it, but the Japanese have something far easier – you just take a picture of it and it tells you (approximately) how many calories it is.
It's a application developed by Japan's NTT Communications. It works by examining the food's color and shape in the picture, compares it against 100,000 entries in a database, and then outputs an approximate calorie count.
"It's really good on things that Japanese people eat a lot of, like ramen, but not so good on stuff like Thai food. So now we're really working to expand the database," said a spokeswoman for the company, a subsidiary of communications giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT). "Current diet applications require people to input a lot of information themselves. But ours does it all by taking photos, which helps people keep on using it -- and keep up their diet."
Users of the software can also link up with their friends so that they can track how they are doing against each other.
The software is currently being tested internally and will be available to the public in January.