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.

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

  1. So, will there be a blackberry version coming? I doubt I’ll be getting an iPhone anytime soon….would love to use it on my blackberry here in Canada!!


  2. It’s because you are putting your business terms in your name, which is getting flagged by people going through comments. If you just use your name per the comment rules, it should show up.


  3. When he held the apple to the phone for a moment there I was like “oh my freakin god.” I felt stupid when he said that we are not quite there yet.

    I used to be obsessed a at one point in my life on both workouts and nutrition. I maintain a pretty decent diet. It is now a natural part of my life. I go shopping for food and I don’t even have to make an effort to buy the right foods.

    After years of doing eating right for or the simple reason that i don’t want to have stupid illnesses like high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension, stuff that can be avoided. Eating whole grains veggies and fruits is my natural lifestyle. I have absolutely no need for something like that.

    BTW, what can you see on the phone that is not already printed on the label? That application seem like a big waste of time to me, it does not deserve it’s own blog post.


  4. tim

    I love these new tools you’re sharing!

    side note:
    Have you ever met up with Jeff Allen since he also lives in SF?
    You should meet up with him and interview him about his new book or something

    would be preeeetty cool



  5. Sounds like a pretty effective tool, but I’m the type of eater who doesn’t go so far as to count calories or grams of saturated fat…i just stick with what I know to be reasonably healthy. My biggest issue is eating out, which I do a lot, but its generally impossible to tell what the nutrition content of a meal at a restaurant is. Does dailyburn have a plan to integrate restaurant meals into its database? Are there any other tools for this?


  6. Dear Mr. Terriss,

    My name is Carolina and I work as a reporter at the Brazilian magazine Galileu. Galileu is a popular monthly magazine about science and technology (a little bit like Discover, Wired and New Scientist), which belongs to the biggest media group in Latin America, the Globo Organizations. It is the second largest selling magazine of this kind in Brazil.

    We´re are producing an article about the modern life and how it has turned people´s life crazy and stressful. The article will talk about how tecnology has changed our lifestyle, how people always want to know everything is going on, reading any news, always plugged.

    So, the article will gonna ask: is it time of slow down? Shouldn´t we make less things at the same time?

    It´s very important for us to have your opinion about that.
    Could you, please, give me an interview?

    We can talk by phone or email. Just tell me what do you prefer.

    Thank you very much.
    Best regards,
    Carolina Monteiro
    Reporter – Galileu Magazine


  7. Hi Tim,

    I see your tweet yesterday about Stephen Key.
    I’m wondering: why now his services and why now?

    I’ve been wondering if the training is worth it– the “1k investment.”
    Any thoughts or personal miracle testimonies?

    Incidentally, do you ever watch Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den? What do you think of kevin o’leary?



  8. Honestly as an IT guy who loves his iPhone my intial thought was very cool, but as a health food nut who buys most of his food at Trater Joes or the farmers market I began to realize that this application would most likely be a complete waste and perpectuates the horrid eating habbits that Americans have. Eat organic and live! It you are trying to watch your weight my vote is for the Lose It! iPhone application….


  9. Shawn, I disagree. If you’re talking about pure FoodScanner I get it… I’m super pleased with DailyBurn app though. It is interesting to look up stuff though – it deters me more than I would be without it.

    I’m not perfect, of course. :)


  10. When I get off track with eating due to vacation, long hours working, or just general chaos with a toddler, I keep a food journal for a few days. I would definitely love this application to track my habits and maybe even try to prevent the bad ones. It doesn’t mean being crazy with your food choices or starving yourself, but rather just being aware. I don’t like spending time writing stuff down – so if I can scan my food – that would be a huge timesaver.

    Thank you for sharing this new tool!

    Also, I recently finish your 4 hour work week book and loved it!


  11. This is a lot better than other iphone apps that required you to search for the information. There are so many different food items one can possibly eat in one day, this saves a lot of time for those who want to eat less and move more to burn calories and lose weight. There are over 100+ fitness applications for the iphone. I look forward to trying this one out and adding it to my list of fitness solutions for busy people.


  12. Tim,

    Following on from tracking food, can you recommend any (mac) software or alternate method of tracking personal metrics such as time spent online, sleeping time, daily mood and daily alcohol consumption etc?

    I’ve searched the web and havn’t found much at all.


    Tim Coghlan


  13. That’s a pretty cool tool – though the bar code part of it is still a challenge (yes, I know it’s not made to teach you to eat that stuff :)

    I run a food photo-sharing site called (url on my name), which involves just taking pictures of the food you eat and tweeting them out. So far, the users seem to find it a lot of fun. Though it definitely doesn’t count calories for you, sharing pictures of the food you eat does make you more aware of your eating habits – while seeing pictures of food other people eat gives you some idea of where you stand. So, it might be cool to see a social aspect to this app.


  14. I don’t have an iPhone… but this app sounds awesome. Right now I’m typing all my food into a program on Facebook. It words, but this looks so much faster.


  15. This is a great idea, and you will make a lot of money.

    I know this because I know someone who wanted to develop this exact thing, but as a standalone device. the fact that you guys combined it with an iphone just shows that you are very bright

    best of luck


  16. I would imagine that within 6 months, there will be at least a few imitators of this application on a variety of platforms. This only tells me that while this app in particular may be an innovator or “the best” for now, it will lose its competitive advantage and sales of the app/total revenue will level out.

    With this assumption, wouldn’t it be best to invest more in companies that are open to the potential of capturing a larger portion of the mobile app market?


  17. I picked up this app after reading this post. I’m a UX designer and have spent quite a bit of time designing and building iPhone apps. The technology behind the scanner is great but unfortunately the project team forgot that humans will be using it.

    I believe the app has potential, and I want to frame my critique as constructively as possible.

    Data caching – don’t make me wait for each day to load when skipping backward or forward. This data should be cached – I mean we’re only talking about formatted text and a reference ID.

    Also, your users are humans – creatures of habit – and our diets reflect this. If I have a carton of eggs in my fridge I’m going to be manually searching (or skipping backward and reloading previous data) to add ‘eggs’ every morning. I found that about 75% of my entries were duplicates. It would be great if these items were cached on the phone and offered with some sort of intelligent input method, like AutoComplete. Again, we’re only talking about some text and a reference ID. The value offsets the storage use.

    My last concern is that DailyBurn has another app in the store where I can see the results of my consumption and track workout/cardio activity. I downloaded this app as well ONLY for the calorie-breakdown tracking so I can see the additive results of what I enter with the Food Scanner. It would be really nice if the Food Scanner feature were just a paid upgrade from the initial app, or if the Food Scanner atleast reused the calorie-breakdown view.

    I’m not simply complaining about the design… These few simple issues are deal-breakers with regard to long-term adoption and continuance.


  18. Dustin,

    Thanks for the comments.

    Re: input… next update (should be in the store any time now) will have favorites so you can easily get to the foods you eat frequently.

    Calorie breakdown in FoodScanner is coming too.

    Best Regards,

    Andy Smith


  19. Hmmm…..I eat very little packaged food, so I don’t really see how this would be useful. How do I add in the carrots, lettuce, celery, homemade yogurt, etc.? I’d really like to see someone develop app that works effectively with the exchange system – track carbs, fruit, veg, protein, fat…. Doesn’t anyone cook anymore?