The Latest Way to Get Nutritional Information When You Dine Out

Smartphones have long been used for more than just making a call—they’re also how you check your e-mail, watch videos, listen to music. But they’re also a unique means of getting health information. In fact, health is one of the fastest-growing application (or app) categories on smartphones, because many people want to know how they can live healthier, longer, and better with simple and easy fixes, and using a smartphone or going online can provide those answers.

The Georgia Tech IEEE Innovation Team has joined the bandwagon and developed an app called “Auggy.” Consumers who have downloaded the app can use it at restaurants to find out the nutritional information of the items on the menu. It’s user-friendly: you just point your tablet or smartphone’s camera at the menu and a three-dimensional (3-D) image appears on your screen of the food and its nutritional information. The app also works with other fitness and wellness apps like “myfitnesspal” to make meal suggestions based on your preferences and goals.

“It’s designed to revolutionize the way people get information about the food they eat,” says Kevin Hsu, the developer of Auggy.

The app also has the potential to reduce the number of food-related allergic reactions, since consumers will get a complete breakdown of every ingredient in their meal. Currently, an estimated 2,000 hospitalizations and 150 deaths occur in America each year due to food-induced allergy attacks.

But for Auggy to work, restaurants must first sign up and voluntarily upload photos of each food item, its ingredients, and all its nutritional information. Once the information is received, Auggy developers create 3-D models based on the photos.

“By allowing the customers to preview their menu items with 3-D renditions, along with the nutritional info, we can give customers a much better idea of what they’re ordering before it arrives at the table, giving the customers an enhanced dining experience,” says Jeremy Lam, marketing director for Auggy.

While it may take awhile before restaurant owners agree to jump onboard, this app can help you make wiser food choices when you dine out.

“Food Allergies: What you need to know,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration web site, March 1, 2013;, last accessed April 4, 2013.
“Auggy—Augmented Reality Smart Menu,” Vimeo web site, March 28, 2013;, last accessed April 4, 2013.