Our very first inspiration for this project was our excitement for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. We knew that as a group, we wanted to experiment and test the limits of what we could accomplish with these technologies, and find practical and helpful uses for them. The vision for our project came after a lengthy discussion regarding our frustration with edible and potable consumables. We all agreed that the world we live in today is driven by capitalist profit, (which may yield many benefits) but a major drawback being us, as the general populous, to be forced into consumerism. Around every market are companies striving to take advantage of human brain chemistry, hiding sugars, salts, and fats in everyday consumables in order to entice buyers to stay thirsty or develop a subconscious addiction to the product. Our shared frustration on the subject leads us to think of ways to better educate the public about the products they are consuming. Even though the FDA requires that nutrition labels and ingredients be listed on every food product, there is no surefire way of visualizing the quantity of the chemicals you are consuming. Eventually, we decided to start a project to target that specific need.
What it does
Sugar Cubed provides a free and accessible method for anyone with a smartphone and internet connection to be able to access a database of over 600,000 food products, and visually discover the ingredient concentrations of the products they are consuming through an Augmented Reality camera. The user first scans the barcode of the food item they wish to analyze. The app then sends a JSON file to the Nutritionix API, with access to a database of over 600,000 food products. The API returns a JSON file of the nutrition information and ingredients of the product back to the user, where the app would process the amount of the ingredients into an accurate volume to be displayed by the Augmented Reality camera. The user would then be able to visually see these amounts, and gain a much more coherent image of what they are consuming. The seamless front-end design of the app will also automatically arrange the information into a visually appealing card and highlighting the sugars, salts, and fats, tracking and saving the information to the user throughout the day. On top of simply displaying the information scanned into the app, users will have the option to set a goal of how much of each substance they aim to take in. Users will also be able to view an FDA recommended amount for each substance, as well as certain tips on how to reduce their intake. The journal the user chooses to use will continue to remain linked to their account, and they will be able to view their progress over weeks, and eventually months of progress. A web browser display of their information is also available, where they can view their profile information simply by logging into their account. They may not be able to add new items to their list, but users will be able to view the full Nutritional Facts and ingredients of their product; especially if they are obscured or removed from the product they are scanning.
How we built it
We first started with learning how to communicate with MongoDB stitch, a serverless service to host the backend of our project; including the scanned food items and nutritional values, as well as a dynamic email and password authentication to secure personal information for each user. Afterwards, we learned how to operate with an Augmented Reality Kit, and produce virtual objects in the real world using an Augmented Reality camera (almost any smartphone camera). Lastly, we polished up the backend to more efficiently manage our data, as well as adding a web browser version of the app where user information is much more seamlessly displayed and interpreted.
Challenges we ran into
We first had a lot of trouble setting up communication with MongoDB stitch, as their unique management style was difficult to understand and get used to. However, after persistent experimenting and consulting with MongoDB mentors, we were able to effectively use the service to the best of its capability, and even using features such as Off Database Functions, Database Tables, and an Implemented SDK (software development kit).
Accomplishments that we are proud of
We are extremely proud of the working product we have and excited that users will actually have a practical use for our application on a daily basis, with logging the food products they consume and journaling what they eat. We are also proud that we could help people better manage their diets, and help act as a reminder so people are conscious about what they eat.
What we learned
Throughout the process of building this project, we learned a multitude of new skills that will definitely help us in the long run. Aside from syntax and formatting code for HTML, CSS, and JS, we were also exposed to communicating with database services and extrapolate the data to present sound conclusions for users.
What's next for Sugar³
We plan to improve our App version for Android users, as well as bringing new animations and visualizations for the app so that users will have an even wider variety of ingredients to see and an even better understanding of what they are consuming.