Your next microwave might be able to measure how healthy your food is. Researchers at General Electric have developed a device that can quickly measure the calories in your food by utilizing just three pieces of information: fat content, water content, and weight. From this data its able to approximate the calories of your meal, and the team at GE Research is hoping to eventually incorporate the technology into appliances like microwaves.
The catch is that the prototype currently only works with blended foods — it analyzes meals by passing low-energy microwaves through them, and as of now the food needs to be uniform throughout to get an accurate reading. That makes it ideal for liquids or purees, but the next step is to get it working with solid food, so that it's useful to people who aren't on a juice diet. The goal is to be able to scan a meal in just one or two seconds.
A mockup of a potential calorie-counting device from GE
While the quality of calorie-counting gadgets to date has been largely disappointing, the new tech has the potential to be much more useful by giving you a more complete picture of what you're about to eat. "We're looking at waves that pass all the way through the food," GE Research senior scientist Matt Webster tells MIT Technology Review.
The device was inspired by Webster's wife, who was unimpressed by the current state of health gadgets, and wanted something that could automatically track calories. "I am working on my wife's dream present," says Webster. And if it ever makes it into commercial products, it could be the perfect compliment to your smart fork.