PRINCETON — On an average day on Facebook, amid photos of cute kittens and political statements, there’s another photo mainstay: food. Breakfast splurges. Delicious dinner plates. Mouthwatering desserts.
What if taking a photo of food could help a person meet his or her dietary goals? That’s the idea behind a mobile app developed by scientists at Viocare, a Princeton-based company that focuses on developing technology to promote healthy lifestyles. The app helps users make dietary decisions by using image recognition. After the photo of the food is taken, it is able to identify what it is and provide the nutritional facts.
“People love taking pictures of their food,” said Rick Weiss, president and founder of Viocare, which won the Health and Wellness award at the New Jersey Technology Council’s fourth annual mobile applications forum at Princeton University Wednesday. Winners in nine categories were announced during the forum, which also included presentations on mobile app development. Of the nine categories, all but two featured winners from New Jersey.
“We had applications from California, Ohio and multiple submissions from New York and Pennsylvania, but the selection committee felt that the New Jersey submissions were of the highest standard,” said Maxine Ballen, founder and president of the New Jersey Technology Council.
The panel of seven judges from a variety of technological fields judged the 41 contestants on three statements about their app. They focused on clarity, value, credibility, and had to demonstrate why the app will succeed.
Viocare’s FIVR app, which is a food tracker that uses voice and image recognition, was developed by a team of eight scientists, including collaborators from Ohio State University, the University of Iowa and the Stanford Research Institute. It is set to be launched within the next two years. With clinical clients in mind, the app will help people with diseases such as diabetes.
“One of the issues that people with chronic diseases is that they don’t know what to eat,” Weiss said. Viocare hopes the app will help them make choices that make managing such conditions easier.
Another Princeton company, Lingraphica, won the Mobile Commerce award. Its Talkpath app helps people with aphasia, who have trouble with communication as a result of a brain injury, such as a stroke. These people often struggle to speak and understand speech and also can lose their ability to read and write. A team of researchers and speech pathologists developed the app, which now has thousands of users, Lingraphica CEO Andrew Gomory said.
From spelling to speech, Talkpath provides those with aphasia a self-help opportunity to continue practicing their skills after they end sessions with speech therapists.
“It really opens up the world to them,” Gomory said. Since its founding in 1990, Lingraphica has been dedicated to helping people with different types of aphasia, Gomory said.
Internet Creations company, located in Hamilton, developed an app called Front Desk, which can replace “one of the last paper-based processes,” according to Anthony Pica, director of marketing. The company won the Mobile Media Award for its app which replaces sign-in books at corporations and doctors’ offices. Users of the app can sign in via iPhone or iPad, and it will automatically notify the person with whom they are meeting.
“We know that this app fills a need,” Pica said.
The council announced a student winner for the first time as well.
Skillman High School senior Michael Reininger of Montgomery designed Eco-fuel Net, a social media app that allows users to find and share the most fuel-efficient route from one point to another.
“When I heard the news, I was very excited,” Reininger said about being the youngest recipient of an award. Reininger might have one of the biggest market audiences out of all other developers in the competition, as the app would be useful to essentially anyone with a car, he said.