The PlateMate app in both cases, analyzes the nutrients on a plate of food. In the
case of the Harvard app, with the help of Amazon Mechanical Turk, as well as the
aggregated opinions of experts and peers, a photo of a meal can be analyzed in terms
of the available protein, carbohydrates, fat, and calories. In the case of the SweetBee
app, users are provided photos of food, which they can then mix and match to create
a virtual plate. A user can then use this information in order to create a meal that
has just the right amount of nutrients.
The PlateMate app is currently being developed and was created by Harvard students.
They presented their paper at a scientific conference, and their work was picked
up by major newspapers and magazines. The Plate Mate app by SweetBee is created by
Bayer, a Belgian pharmaceutical company.
The Harvard app is not yet publicly available, but information about it can be viewed
here. The website is housed under the Harvard Research group, which also looks at
different social and environmental issues that can be addressed by science.
The Bayer app is available for download and more information can be viewed at the
Bayer SweetBee site.
Pros and Cons
In the case of both apps, users can keep track of their food and obtain information
on food even when they are on the go. This can be helpful if they are eating out
and are not in charge of preparing their food. However, this app cannot determine
if a recipe contains calories or fats if you did not prepare it yourself. For example,
some restaurants might put butter in their sauces, and although you cannot taste
it outright, it will be there to enhance the flavor and add some fats. The app will
not be able to detect this 100% of the time.
The Harvard app also ran into some problems with crowdsourcing, since some evaluators
were not able to correctly identify foods from other cultures. This could lead to
some problems in evaluating the nutritional content of the food and storing that
information in the long term.
According to fitness experts, keeping a food diary is essential to having a healthier
lifestyle. A food diary allows you to keep track of the food that you eat and see
if you are getting the nutrients your body needs, as you keep away from foods that
will damage your body. An app recently developed by Harvard students allows you to
take photos of your food and determine how nutritious it is. An app of the same name
is already available, courtesy of SweetBee by Bayer. The app, Platemate, is available
online. Is it effective? What can it do?
Platemate is an app that analyzes meal portions and content, and then provides information
on nutrition and the number of calories in the meal. There are actually two apps
that bear the name: one is still in development and is pioneered by several Harvard
students, while the other refers to an app made by pharmaceutical giant Bayer, under
its SweetBee line of products.
Although the Harvard project has yet to gain social media leverage, it is already
widely covered in the popular press. On the other hand, the SweetBee by Bayer app
has some social media following: a Facebook page on diabetes, which has over 300
likes, regularly provides information on the app.
The Sweetbee Plate Mate is available for $8.99 on the Apple store. On the other hand,
the Harvard app has not yet been released.