Gov't Offers $55K In Prizes For Creating Astronaut iPad Food Intake Tracker App

Joe Schoffstall
By Joe Schoffstall | March 8, 2013 | 12:27 PM EST

Here's another great example of government priority and spending. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has created a challenge for the private sector, asking people to design, develop and produce an iPad app that will allow International Space Station crew members to easily enter and track food consumption. The challenge will be handing out $55,000 in prizes.

Participants are asked to "develop an app to identify the user, track dietary intake, and provide a timestamp of when the food was consumed." It goes on to say, "We need a more detailed log of dietary intake so that we can better understand the role of nutrition in spaceflight, and provide better dietary recommendations to help mitigate the negative physiological effects of spaceflight.  The app could take photos of the foods, use a voice recorder option, provide an easy way to enter foods manually or by creating an interactive voice command system," according to the website.

TopCoder further explains how the app should operate:

  • The App could take photos of the foods (every space food item is labeled with the food name - this label would obviously have to be in view of the camera).
  • A voice recorder option where the crew could just say out loud what they are eating (then convert the voice to words).
  • Provide an easy way to enter foods manually with some type of auto-suggest.
  • Creating an interactive voice command system might be one approach to avoid errors when reporting. If the crewmember reports "chicken", that is too vague for us to know which chicken item was consumed. The crewmember could be questioned (by the App), please clarify which type of chicken, or, it could ask "did you mean Fiesta chicken"?

The challenge launched on February 10, 2013, and ends on July 01, 2013.

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