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Smartphone gizmo maps meals, counts calories

Image: NutriRay3D device in action
The NutriRay3D device uses a laser-mapping gizmo and a smartphone app to estimate the calories and other nutritional content on a plate of food. (Credit: University of Washington)

How many calories are on your plate? Engineers at the University of Washington have developed a gizmo that estimates the nutritional value of your meal with the mere snap of a smartphone.

NutriRay3D combines a smartphone app with a laser-mapping add-on: The app identifies what kind of food is in the picture, and the laser-mapper provides an estimate of each food’s volume. Then you get a real-time estimate of the calorie count and nutritional content.

The system gets around the toughest hurdles in nutrition tracking: Keeping an accurate record of what you eat, and figuring out how much of it you’re eating.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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