Food Recognition Technology | SRI International
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Food Recognition Technology

Technology that helps track health and fitness is on the rise, with a myriad of devices and applications available to record everything from blood pressure, to steps walked, to calories consumed or burned. Now a simple way to estimate calories in a meal using a camera-enabled device is available from SRI.

Built on work done for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), SRI has developed and patented computer vision technology for food recognition and analysis that uses images to provide nutritional information and food portion estimates. The technology may be licensed for use in commercial products.

How it Works

SRI’s food recognition technology combines two capabilities: food recognition and volume estimation. The combination is used to generate information about the food item, the portion size, and its nutritional value. Image classifiers are trained to identify and categorize individual food items on a plate from a single image. If multiple images are taken, a volume estimate is calculated to provide an approximation of nutritional information. The technology also employs contextual clues, such as location, to incorporate data from menus of restaurants in which the image was taken.

  • Recognizes food items from images captured with a camera-enabled device
  • Estimates food portions and volume by generating a 3D reconstruction of the plate combined with the food identification information
  • Provides nutritional values based on estimation of food quantity using server-based U.S. Food and Drug Administration-issued table; generates an FDA nutrition label
  • Utilizes contextual clues, such as restaurant location and menus or the user’s profile, to further augment the information and improve calorie estimation
smart phone
Estimated nutritional value is presented.


The technology described was supported by Grant Number U01 HL091738 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or the National Institutes of Health.

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