It's fascinating to know what is in our food, but we rarely look beyond the nutrition label. Did you ever wonder how much Folic Acid was in a banana? Or maybe how much iron is in spinach? It turns out there are some great resources out there that can break this down, but no one wants to look through spreadsheets or databases to find this information.
That's what inspired me to put this together. I wanted to create a user friendly and simple interface with a focus on voice for people to use to find information about their food. A quick lookup for how much potassium is in something could be useful for anyone with different dietary needs.
What it does
A quick little request and a user can retrieve information about food. The easy stuff like calories and carbohydrates are included, but you can also look for more obscure things like vitamin D, Riboflavin, or other interesting things that can be found in food.
You can also customize your listing. Not interested in calories but want to hear about protein? Sure! Want to add Glucose and Maltose to your list? Great! After you customize your options, each successive response will search that criteria. Up to five nutrients will be read aloud, and the rest will go to your device in an easy to read list.
Voice searching isn't perfect, though, so I also show you search options based on your phrase. Let's say you search for 'chocolate'. I'm going to give you the top result for chocolate, as well as a selectable list with more top options that you can choose from to view. Easily switch from 'bread' to 'Italian bread' without having to start over!
How I built it
I focused first on the voice aspect of the skill and then looked for ways in which the visual skill could unobtrusively add to the flow. I wanted for the visual flow to include all of the things a user would think 'boy, I wish this also included...' without it feeling like the visual parts were necessary.
Challenges I ran into
APL is entirely new for me, and the first time I read through the documentation and started playing with it was a nightmare. I couldn't get anything to work right and spent hours tinkering just to get the basics to work.
After all, you have to learn how to walk before you can run.
Learning APL was harder than many other features that have been released over the years, but also the most rewarding. Being in control of the visuals perfectly complements the rest of my skill and is incredible fun to play with.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
I set out to make this a complementary skill, I wanted it to be simple to use, informational, and pleasing. Many of my skills are intended to be games or to elicit long term interactions, but this one was meant to be something that could give immediate information to a user when they need it most. Whether you're just curious about what's in your food or have a dietary need to know, I wanted this to be something worthwhile.
What I learned
I learned how to use APL to create something new and entirely different from anything I've done before. It was a lot of fun, and the tools I learned will help me develop many more skills to come.
What's next for Nutrient Guide
I'll keep enhancing it and adding features over time depending on what users find interesting and important.