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Proposed device would instantly display the number of calories in any food


July 2, 2014

A mock-up of the universal calorie counting device

A mock-up of the universal calorie counting device

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Although there are already devices that can tell you approximately how many calories are in your food, they typically require you to manually input data regarding the type and amount of food that you're eating ... and as we all know, people generally don't like having to "do" things. A senior scientist at GE, however, is developing a gadget that could instantly display the caloric content of any food placed within it, at the touch of a button.

Matt Webster was inspired to create the device after his wife told him that she wasn't interested in receiving an activity monitor as a gift, if it didn't automatically track her caloric intake.

Working with colleagues at the GE labs in upstate New York, he devised a formula that estimates the calorie density of foods based on their weight, fat content and water content. The formula just assumes values for other factors such as sugar, carbohydrate and protein content – and apparently it's still pretty accurate.

"You actually don’t need to know the details," he said. "We just have  to account for it. That’s the secret sauce."

Webster and his team are now working on sensing systems that could ascertain a food item's fat and water content by subjecting it to microwaves, then analyzing the signature of the waves that pass through. Although they're currently working with simple mixtures of oil, water and sugar, the researchers hope to ultimately produce a household device that could provide instant readings of plated meals and snacks.

More information is available in the video below.

Source: GE Reports

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

I am disappointed with the lack of a spectrometer.


I am glad it doesn't have a spectrometer. Means I might be able to afford one.

Tony Morris

Unexceptable gentlemen . Again the r and d budget here is once again mislead. In an age of education were by looking at a cake and a brussel sprout we know whats bad for us and whats good why do we once again need calorie count, or burn ,what the human race needs is a device to tell what is the nutritonal count of the food and as to what are the requirments of our body at the time of the meal ,this alone would of set medical expensises for the years to come as well as improve the overall health of the race.. knowing you have to much food on your plate will simple result in it not being eaten and wasted. In todays world many of us simply do not have the time or disaplin to maintian exactly vitaimine levels. This persuit of calorie count and burn is so stupid and has been going on from the late 80s change the record


I assume that the purpose has its origins in weight loss. If so, then leave the microwaves on for enough time to make the food inedible and Hey Presto!, no calories will be consumed and thus no weight will be gained, only lost. Use it for every meal until the target weight reduction has been achieved and afterwards each time weight gain is noticed. In fact, a standard domestic microwave oven is quite capable of doing the same thing and a lot cheaper.

Mel Tisdale

The joys of magnetic resonance! If they can do it to humans, food's fair game.

Dan Lewis
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