I’ve been on a diet since the beginning of the year. It’s nothing crazy, just trying to cut out a lot of sugar and carbs. This involves more time at the grocery store because I have to read the label and inspect the nutrition facts on every item before I buy it.
So I was intrigued when Chinese AR startup Coolhobo posted a video of a new technology its working on called Hobose that uses your phone’s camera and computer vision to quickly find foods that fit your particular dietary needs/restrictions. The Hobose technology can be integrated into a native app from a partner like a grocery retailer, and once opened, Hobose creates a personalized “Traffic Light” for shoppers. Users go through and select what they want to avoid, things like high calories, or high carbs, high fats, etc.. There’s also a ranking for how many additives a shopper will tolerate.
Once in the store, the shopper fires up the mobile app and points the camera at various products on the shelves. As each item is scanned, Hobose comes back with a green light (good!) or red light (too much of what you don’t want). You can see it in action in this demo video that Coolhobo posted.
When we first wrote about Coolhobo almost two years ago, the company was working on much bigger, virtual assistant for grocery shoppers. It would direct people to items in the store, provide lots of information on that product (like the story of an imported wine), and also had social features.
This is definitely more of a stripped down solution from the company. Coolhobo Co-Founder and CEO Loic Kobbes told me via email “We’ve learned from many iterations that users don’t want to be overloaded with information, they just want to know what’s good for them.”
It’s easy to see the appeal of this type of fast, should I/shouldn’t I information at the grocery store where there are a ton of products, some of which may make health claims that are at the very least, misleading. Other companies are working on nutrition guidance solutions as well, such as DNA Nudge, which uses a combination of your DNA and a wearable that scans products to give you a thumbs up or thumbs down on particular items.
Right now, Kobbes said that Hobose is in the development stage and the company is looking for partners to test it out. While Coolhobo may be offering a more svelte AR application than its previous work, it is expanding its worldview for the first time and looking to bring in partners from countries outside of China.
I’m not sure if it will make it to my local market, but who knows? Perhaps I can replace reading each box I pick up with a quick scan of my phone.