Deep learning is being used to advance the innovations of tomorrow, such as self-driving cars, industrial robots and computer vision. Foodvisor, a Paris-based artificial intelligence startup, wants to apply this technology to an everyday, more practical use: healthy eating.
“Foodvisor is a nutrition application that simply helps you eat better,” co-founder and chief marketing officer Aurore Tran said in an April 2019 interview with Station F as a member of its Facebook Startup Garage programme. “The concept is that you take a picture of your meal, and we’re able to immediately give you its nutritional information.”
According to Venture Beat, the idea for the company started as a project for an engineering course.
“How can I eat better?” was the first question, Tran explained. “And how can I have clear nutritional facts about the food I eat?”
After taking a photo of their meals, users receive a list of nutrition facts about what the food as well as advice to meet their health goals. They can use the platform to set a goal, choose a dietary plan, record their physical activities and monitor progress over time.
In addition to using image recognition to figure out the type of food, the app then estimates the distance between the user’s phone and the food to calculate the area of each item, extrapolating the volume of everything on the plate.
“It’s actually a collaborative process because we reuse our users’ images to train our algorithms,” Tran explained. “The more users we have, the more images we collect and the better the technology will work. We have now collected over 10 million images, so it performs much better, and we’re able to recognise over 1,000 foods.”
By using photos, Foodvisor is trying to simplify food tracking and encourage users to keep using the app. However, if the app makes an obvious mistake, users can correct the information, improving the platform’s overall accuracy.
Users with a premium subscription can receive access to more analyses and diet plans as well as the ability to talk directly to a registered dietitian to nutritionist through the app.
“The feedback we had from our users was that they wanted to go beyond how many calories [they ate] and to have more coaching,” Tran said. “The idea is to have a nutritionist in your pocket.”
With about two million downloads on iOS and Android and language options in French, English, German and Spanish, Foodvisor is equipped to continue expanding throughout Europe and the US, which it plans to do after its latest round of venture capital funding. The company raised $4.5 million in a round led by Agrinnovation, with participation by several business angel investors.
Nichole Onome Yembra