Digital fitness has gone insane. There are apps and devices to track everything now, from how well you slept last night to whether you’re doing your Kegel exercises properly. The idea that information is empowering has turned exercise into a series of digital displays; wear a Basis activity tracker while running on the treadmill and you can monitor your speed, distance covered, temperature, heart rate, and perspiration levels all at once.
But this tech-happy approach to health isn’t limited to the fitness sector. Smartphone apps like Lose It! and Weight Watchers make counting calories and finding nutritional data as easy as scanning a barcode. And there’s a slew of new gadgets that can reduce a chocolate chip cookie to lines of pure numerical information, like Neo in the Matrix.
Here’s a look at some of the devices that are digitalizing our dinner tables.
This smart cup analyzes whatever you pour into it, tracking your hydration levels as well as calorie, sugar, alcohol and caffeine intake. There’s no denying that this is one sexy looking gadget; and it acts as a constant reminder not to mindlessly guzzle fluids that could be making you fat or messing up your sleep patterns. But as Stephen Colbert pointed out on his show last night, most of this information is already out there for anyone who really wants it: “A digital cup that can tell me what’s in the cup and how many calories and allow me to drink it? That level of information was previously available only on the can you just poured it out of.” Vessyl makes gathering that information easier, but carrying and using it at all times arguably requires the same mindfulness and effort as noticing what you’re drinking throughout the day. (Photo: Vessyl)
Cost: $99 pre-order for early 2015 delivery.
If you’re already rolling around town with your own crockery, turning up to a restaurant or someone’s house with your own cutlery should be NBD. This smart fork measures how quickly you’re eating and vibrates to remind you to slow down. That, in turn, should lead you to chew more (which is good for digestion) and eat less (since you’re more likely to feel satiated before finishing all your food). It has the added benefit of improving your table manners since shoveling your dinner down like a refugee is generally considered low-brow and rude, but then again, anyone who cares about that kind of stuff will definitely also judge you for bringing your own fork out to dinner. (Photo: HAPIfork)
Two portable food-scanning devices will be hitting the market later this year thanks to successful crowdfunding campaigns, and they’re hella useful. Aim a TellSpec at an apple and it will reveal not only how many calories it contains, but its vitamin and fiber content, and whether it has traces of pesticides. It uses lasers to analyze ingredients, including chemicals and allergens, so you can easily find out if a product contains gluten or tartrazine. It also remembers what you’ve been eating, and can tell you if you need more potassium or have exceeded the recommended mercury intake. (Photo: TellSpec)
The SCiO also analyzes molecular components, measuring an item’s fat, sugar, protein, water and carb content so you can pick out the ripest melon at the supermarket or identify whether your pot plant needs watering. Unfortunately it’s limited to substances that have been scanned and entered into a database, but on the plus side, that database is constantly growing and isn’t confined to food. It currently contains pharmaceuticals so you can identify pills, and could in theory be expanded to include any physical material, like irritants in cosmetics, contaminants in soil, and chemicals in bodily fluids. (Photo: SCiO)
Cost: TellSpec, $250 pre-order for August 2014 delivery; SCiO, $199 pre-order for December 2014 delivery
Let’s be real, you’re already photographing all your food, so you may as well do something useful with that Instagram picture. This app takes your carefully styled burger shot and estimates the amount of calories it contains. It’s not as accurate as the laser scanners, giving you a range rather than an exact number. But you can help it along by captioning what you’re eating since, according to the Wall Street Journal, part of the way it works involves someone looking at the photo to figure out what you’re eating. There’s a possible secondary motivation to eat better that the developers didn’t foresee: Knowing someone’s looking at everything you eat might shame you into a salad now and then. (Photos: Meal Snap)