Tue Lu; Zhongheng Li; Youxing Gao; John Zachary Martinez
High Concept Statement:
Our app allows users to use photos (either from new capture or album) to instantaneously pull up nutritional data of foods and beverages, see how it stacks up in relation to their daily suggested diet, and learn and source healthier alternatives (if what they’re consuming doesn’t align with their recommended intake).
Health & Fitness
Need or Demand:
MealPic tackles the shortage of nutrition awareness and access. Many of us want to eat healthy, but are either too lazy to find nutrition labels, don’t have convenient resources to retrieve these values, don’t understand balanced diet and/or simply do not know HOW to eat healthier.
Product / Service / Solution:
EASY ACCESS TO LABELS: By leveraging image recognition technology and the popularity of camera phone photography, MealPic provides a convenient tool—via the simple click of a camera—to access nutrition values that are otherwise tedious to retrieve (reduce/eliminate manual typed entries).
HOLISTIC VIEW OF BALANCED DIETS: Many dieting platforms look at foods and drinks in isolation, which can breed misconceptions (e.g. carrots are healthy but consume too much and its excess vitamin A may cause birth defects, while a hamburger isn’t so detrimental if you haven’t had much protein or carbs all day). To counter this, MealPic provides more holistic understanding of consumption by showing how the photographed item relates to the user’s suggested intake at the daily and weekly levels (i.e. what’s been consumed thus far, how the current meal contributes, and what allowances are available after the meal) with concise data visualization. Users’ unique suggested intakes are calculated based on their smart BMI, exercise level, and other specific health conditions, so that critical metrics—beyond just total calories (e.g. protein is, for the most part, a good calorie)—are monitored.
REALISTIC RECOMMENDATIONS THAT RELATE TO USERS: If any meal violates preset nutrient criteria, MealPic will suggest comparable meals of better nutrient balance (based on common keywords) so users are given choices that do not dramatically contradict their lifestyle preferences, allowing for higher chance of acceptance and sustained change. For example, a meal consisting of pepperoni pizza, potato chips, and Coke might yield a recommendation of whole beef and mushroom flatbread, baked kale chips, and Coke Zero (rather than the random green salad with fish). The suggested meal comprises of ingredients and flavors similar to the original meal (but superior nutritional value) so that users have a higher chance of not “falling off the wagon”.
MealPic is a smart device application that provides convenient and holistic nutritional data for health-conscience or -curious consumers who are either too lazy to find nutrition labels, don’t understand balanced diet and/or simply do not know how to eat healthier. Unlike current health monitoring apps, MealPic provides accurate nutrition values without tedious typing, simple visuals for understanding unique personal diets, and executable meal suggestions that relate to user preferences because we account for personalized metrics beyond just calories.
The health monitoring app market today is highly saturated and segmented, but most require tedious manual typed entries for consumption, which derail many potential users. Other apps such as Daily Burn’s FoodScanner app works by scanning packaged bar, QR or RFID codes, but many foods such as fresh fruits do not have such codes available, thus limiting these apps’ usability. This has paved the way for serious players such as SmartPlate, Google’s Im2Calories, Meal Snap, and SRI Venture apps, which leverage image recognition to identify food products.
SmartPlate does not address meals outside the home or office because it requires proprietary plate and scale to complement its analysis. Im2Calories benefits from Google’s infinite resources, but its application stops at 30% recognition accuracy and the label, omitting a call to action (e.g. adjustable personal metrics and analysis, meal suggestions) that can engage and lock in users. Similarly, Meal Snap and SRI Ventures suffers from limited and slow recognition and offers little or no value beyond calorie counting. Furthermore, Meal Snap’s $3 purchase price detracts some subscribers.
No player has yet emerged dominant in the image recognition health monitoring app market segment. The keys to success will be quickness to market with accuracy parity (to attain user base) and added value proposition (to maintain users).
MealPic operates on a freemium platform that offers basic nutrition monitoring (e.g. calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein) free of charge and advanced adjustable monitoring for specialized health conditions (e.g. high cholesterol, lupus, post-surgery restrictions) at a subscription premium. MealPic will also link suggested meals to restaurants and stores (or third party platforms such as Seamless and FreshDirect) where users can purchase the healthier meal or locate ingredients and recipes to make the foods. From this, MealPic will take a percentage commission for each sale conversion.