Finally: The End of Food Journals? The iPhone FoodScanner Arrives


But who keeps a food journal? Exactly.

Unless you have extreme note-taking OCD like me, it’s too much of a pain in the ass to write down what you eat and track it all. I use the online food database here to keep my facts straight, but data entry sucks no matter how you slice it.

Here are first-look highlights of the FoodScanner, which launched a few hours ago and is now available

1. DailyBurn’s FoodScanner is the first and only application that uses the iPhone’s camera to scan the UPC codes of foods and link them with full nutritional information (calories, macronutrients, etc.).

2. With a built-in database of more than 200,000 foods, it is the easiest way to accurately log what you eat during the day and keep an up-to-date calorie and nutrient count. All information is automatically synced with DailyBurn’s sophisticated workout and nutrition-tracking web application.

3. You don’t have to use the new 3GS with auto-focus. It works accurately on all iPhones using the most accurate scanning technology for iPhone – Occipital’s Red Laser.

4. You can also track natural foods (not processed) by searching by name or brand.

Full disclosure: I am an advisor to DailyBurn, but I chose to work with them specifically because I selfishly wanted to have the tools I need to geek out in less time. Here is another favorite new feature: breakdown of meals by protein/carbohydrate/fat composition ( once logged in).

Keep in mind that FoodScanner is not a tool for teaching people to eat bar-coded foods. In fact, it can be quite the opposite: an awareness-building tool that makes you less likely to eat crap. Though the manual natural food tracking still requires some automating in the future, the technology is moving in the right direction.

iPhone screenshots can be seen in Gizmodo’s review.

Posted on: September 24, 2009.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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148 comments on “Finally: The End of Food Journals? The iPhone FoodScanner Arrives

    • I have tried the Lose It app and the Daily Burn app and prefer the Daily Burn app. The only thing that Lose It has over Daily Burn is the ability to input your own recipes (though I am not that tech savvy – am I missing it somewhere?). Will Daily Burn be adding this feature at all?


  1. I think systems are the next frontier in human development. Most of us act on autopilot or from some guilt/greed component, but a systematic approach can far out pace those industrial age techniques. This food journal app is just another example of what I’d call “strategic living.”

    The barrier right now is that the “systems” are usually designed by technicians with ocd and are simply too unusable. I think though that will end soon enough as memory, battery life, and cpu horsepower go exponential.
    Thanks Tim!


  2. This is the cream of the crop… and I don’t fault you for having such selfish motives working with DailyBurn.

    I’m really wanting an iPhone right now. This is completely unrelated to food…

    How does the iPhone integrate with the world traveler’s life? If you go to Seoul, can you use your iPhone there without changing plans and paying ridiculously high fees?


  3. Sorry but I can’t see the use for this. I still think the healthiest way to eat is to not eat anything processed so we make all our food at home and then I have no help from this. Today I made a fruit and vegetable juice for breakfast in my juicer, risotto with chicken for lunch, fried apple pieces with cinnamon for afternoon snack and now a huge loaf of bread is in the oven. Thinking about making some granola bars soon. All hard to track.


  4. Wow,

    Scanned through DailyBurn, looks great and I like the flow of it so I signed up to try it out.

    Didn’t see a drop down menu for tracking nutritional supplements from the online database. Would be awesome if the UPC codes from the Vitamin Shoppe were transferred into the system.

    Keep up the great work. Thanks for the awesome results.


  5. very cool idea. I guess localized versions (international) of this is too much to hope for? Or is the database user-built, so that you could scan something once, enter the food it is and then everyone else in your area can just scan?


  6. @Shane

    I don’t know if I’d like to rely on a community-built nutrition Wikipedia personally. I don’t think they’ll have french goat cheese in the DB for quite a while :p