Future iPhones could listen to the chew and tell you to diet

AppleInsider may earn an affiliate commission on purchases made through links on our site.

Apple has been granted a patent for a technology that has the iPhone hearing chewing, prompting you to photograph your food and may then criticize your food choices.

Apple’s recently granted “Augmented Reality Calorie Counter” patent is split between detecting chewing and determining what is eaten. The patent doesn’t really explicitly say that Apple will complain about snacking. But that’s only because patents are about how something is determined, not what is then done with the information.

Even so, this is clearly another avenue for Apple’s steady expansion. health services. But in this case, the company says it’s necessary because of our ever-expanding waistlines — and perhaps surprising difficulty counting calories.

“Many factors contribute to inaccurate calorie counting,” Apple explains. “For example, portion sizes can be difficult to measure when eating in a restaurant.”

“The result is that people have inaccurate calorie counts, which interferes with weight loss, accurate drug dosages, etc.,” he continues.

Apple says there’s an option to buy and eat “only from single-serving packages to ensure an accurate calorie count,” but it’s “expensive and inconvenient.” Moreover, it “leads to an excessive amount of packaging material”.

Therefore, Apple believes that the iPhone can intervene with a “method to improve the determination of food consumption”.

“[It] includes the detection, by a microphone, of a chewing noise of a user during a chewing session; “continues Apple,”[and] in response to detecting the chewing noise, triggering operation of a camera; obtain, by the camera, image data capturing a food product.”

Patent detail showing iPhone user realizing he can't cook

This image can then be analyzed in a manner presumably similar to how Visual search identifies plants and flowers. In addition to determining whether it is a chocolate cake or a BLT, the image processing includes “determining a volume of food product based on the measurement of the chewing session”.

So it knows how many grains are on your plate and it knows how much you spend chewing. This means that the iPhone can then be used to “determine a calorie intake based on the food item, the volume of the food item and the measurement of the chewing session”.

The patent is particularly careful to point out how “complex and time-consuming” it would be to figure out exactly how to implement such a system. “[It] would nevertheless be a routine undertaking for those of ordinary skill in the art of image capture.”

So yes, taking a photo of a sandwich at a gas station will be different and perhaps more difficult than photographing a banana on your kitchen table. But the steps will be the same: detect the fact of eating, ask for a photo and analyze this image.

Apple also says there will be circumstances where other information comes into play. “For example, location information associated with image data may point to a particular restaurant,” it says, “prompting the object detection…and the processor…using the restaurant menu to identify the food product”.

Again, the patent only focuses on obtaining this data, by determining a calorie count. Presumably, this information could be saved in some part of the Health app.

But that means your iPhone knows what you eat, how long you eat it, how much you eat, and even how often you go to Chili’s. There must be room for a third-party diet app as sarcastic as Carrot Weather can be.

Leave a Comment