Using Your Smartphone Camera To Count Calories

We’ve come across a service by NTT Communications tentatively called “Health Enhancement Assist Service” [J], which unlike its name, is an incredibly interesting little innovation in the world of health management apps and web services. The smartphone app / web service allows people to keep track of their daily diet via their smartphone cameras, an extremely relevant innovation in a country where taking photos of your meal pre-feasting and sharing them on blogs or twitter is an everyday ritual. Simply take a photo of your food and upload it to the service, and the “Health Enhancement Assist Service” will not only help keep track of the things you eat, but it will even analyze and report back to you the amount of calories in your meal. The image analysis method is being developed by University of Tokyo researchers and FoodLog (patent pending), and it is now able to recognize many different types of foods.

Beyond what you eat, the service incorporates other trackers to help maintain a healthy lifestyle including a pedometer through the smartphone’s GPS functionality, a weight/height tracker, instructional exercise content developed by mega-gym chain Tipness, and a recipe book by Lively Networking with over 5000 recipes – all accessible via smartphone. Of course the service can be hooked up to your Twitter and Facebook, so feel free to gloat about your obsessively healthy lifestyle to all of your friends.

Users can login via any NTT account, or your Google, Mixi, or Yahoo! Japan OpenIDs. The app is currently accessible through PC and Android, with an iPhone app to be released in March.

Foodlog, Rapeko, EatNow: 3 Japanese food picture posting services

One major difference between Japanese bloggers and those elsewhere is that not too few Japanese writers seem to be obsessed with food, filling their blogs with pictures of their dinner, lunch boxes, favorite snacks etc. shot from all angles. Here‘s a Japanese blog that even solely focuses on lunch boxes (and this is just one example).

But the obsession doesn’t stop there. There’s a service called Oishiku Henkan (“Yummy Converter”), which boosts the quality of any picture of a food item you upload before you post it on your blog. And Japan is the only country in the world that has a listed recipe site (Cookpad is currently worth $360 million and is, if you believe Alexa, the country’s No. 47 website).

And Japan got another three food-related web services last month, Rapeko (a Twitter mashup),  FoodLog (a service that keeps track of your eating habits and that just relaunched), and EatNow (a Facebook and mobile app that’s also available in English). Just like Foodspotting or the newly launched Fiddme from the US and Israel, these services all aim at helping users make their “food experience” public online.


The way Rapeko works is pretty simple: Shoot a picture of your lunch and upload it to Twitter via Rapeko for your followers to see and drool about. After the upload, each lunch picture gets its own page on Rapeko that again shows the lunch and pulls all related information from Twitter (mentions, retweets etc.) – see below for an example.

Rapeko is the brain child of func09 (@func09).


FoodLog has four distinct goals: The service wants to serve as a “world map for foods”, a platform for communication about food, a diary that keeps track of what you eat, and an information service for food.

Users can basically upload pictures of anything they eat or drink (from the PC or mobile) and all pictures can be “geo-tagged” to make things a bit more interesting (here‘s the FoodLog world map). Users can get an account to upload pictures, which are then sorted by the time of day. This person, for example, had noodles and tempura for lunch, followed by sushi and other side dishes for dinner.

As the name suggests, FoodLog keeps track of everything the users eat and drink for future reference. The “image processing” part of the service, however, doesn’t work too well. It’s supposed to make it possible to analyze meals shown on a picture and then list up various “nutritional information” automatically.

FoodLog is run by a company called foo.log, a University of Tokyo spin-off. An English version is apparently already in the works.


EatNow is available on Facebook, for the iPhone, and for Android. The basic idea is to share what you eat with your friends by uploading pictures of your food and commenting on pictures from others. EatNow lets you browse through pictures from unknown users and keeps track of what you eat, too.

EatNow is offered by FAIS un REVE and Conit.

January 2010 Japan-IT Links (part 2)

News on the latter half of January 2010 which we did not write as a dedicated article. Part 1 is here.

Referred pages are all in Japanese, unless otherwise stated.

Please let us know if you think we should write details on any news above.