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Voice-controlled mobile app to help lose weight

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a mobile app, which will allow you log calorie counts at every meal by verbally describing the contents of a meal, thus making it easier for people struggling with obesity to track their nutrition intake.

The app permits the user to verbally describe the contents of a meal, and the system dissects the description and automatically retrieves the relevant nutritional data from an online database maintained by the US Department of Agriculture.

The data is exhibited together with images of the corresponding foods and pull-down menus that permit the user to refine their descriptions -- selecting, for instance, precise quantities of food. But those refinements can also be made verbally.

The researchers collected 10,000 labeled meal descriptions and used machine-learning algorithms to find patterns in the syntactic relationships between words that would identify their functional roles.