By Ian Bush

By KYW tech editor Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Maybe you’re trying to lose weight, or control diabetes or high blood pressure. Or maybe you’re an athlete looking for ways to improve performance. A Philadelphia-based startup wants to help by adding technology to your table.

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Safe to say your dinner plate doesn’t have WiFi, or a form of facial recognition for food.

“It has three embedded cameras, so it sees what you’re putting on its surface and uses food object recognition to analyze the food and identify it,” says Anthony Ortiz, inventor of SmartPlate.

Ortiz, the CEO of University City Science Center-based meal planning service Fitly, says he wanted to create a solution to poor nutrition — and that, he says, begins with prevention.

“How do we track what we eat and how does that accountability tool help us and guide us through better eating behaviors?” he asks. “I was thinking, ‘I need an accountability tool.'”

Anthony Ortiz displays the SmartPlate. (Credit: Ian Bush)

Anthony Ortiz displays the SmartPlate. (Credit: Ian Bush)

Ortiz cites research that shows people who keep details of meals in journals have higher success rates when it comes to losing weight.

“It’s also critical for weight gain, building muscle, and maintaining endurance,” he says. “This plate is good for all of that. No more manual data entry: it’s tedious. You forget.”

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The 10-inch surface is a bit smaller than your average dinner plate. A swirly divider separates it into three sections.

“At the center here, it has an LCD screen that tells you when you’ve gone over on certain foods,” says Ortiz, describing SmartPlate’s built-in load sensor, which can measure up to three pounds.

“Let’s say you’ve served yourself 80 grams of carbohydrates when you’re only supposed to serve yourself up to 60,” he explains. “The plate will tell you right there on the screen, ‘remove two tablespoons from tray C.'”

Ortiz says the cameras can tell the difference between grilled and fried chicken, for example, and whether pasta and breads are whole wheat or white flour-based.

The rechargeable plate scans and stores data on entrees and sides — including carbs, proteins, sodium, sugar, saturated fat — in a smartphone app, replacing manual tracking and journaling.

“So this essentially is the new Tupperware,” says Ortiz.

SmartPlate is neither microwavable nor dishwashable, but there’s a microwavable tray that can easily transfer food to and from the plate, and the charger doubles as a drying rack.

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There’s a crowdfunding campaign at getsmartplate.com where you can pre-order the device at a reduced cost from the expected retail price.