Ascensia adds automated food analysis to glucose monitoring system

A collaboration between Ascensia Diabetes Care and the Snaq app-based platform is giving new meaning to the phrase, “Say cheese!”

Rather than snapping photos of smiling faces, users of Ascensia’s blood glucose monitors (BGMs) can now point their smartphone cameras at a plate full of food and automatically see the nutritional value of each item.

The partnership will begin with a three-year term, Ascensia and Snaq announced this week. During that time, the Snaq app will connect wirelessly to Ascensia’s Bluetooth-enabled glucose monitors, helping users with diabetes determine the best nutritional options to keep their blood sugar levels within a preferred range.

Ascensia will first roll out access to the Snaq app to customers using its Contour BGMs in the U.S. before expanding into other regions.

The app’s data will also integrate into Ascensia’s GlucoContro.Online platform, which launched in the U.S. last year. It wirelessly takes in readings from diabetes management devices that can then be viewed and analyzed by the user as well as their caregivers and healthcare providers.

“Many of the people we speak to with diabetes are looking for smart, connected technologies that give them the data they need when they need it. Data and technology have a central role in helping people to make treatment decisions, and our collaboration with Snaq will ensure that insights to guide food and meal choice are easily found at the tap of an app,” said Chester Lu, head of BGM digital connected solutions at Ascensia, in the company's press release.

After users snap a photo of a plate of food, the Snaq app’s artificial intelligence automatically identifies the food items and produces a list of the fat, protein and carbohydrate content in each. Throughout the day, the app takes in blood sugar readings from a connected monitor and maps mealtimes over the graph, helping illustrate how certain foods may have impacted the user’s glucose levels.

The app stores each food item logged—along with any subsequent blood sugar spikes—to create a searchable database of common food items and their potential impact on a user’s health. Between that long-term information and the real-time nutritional facts, the app aims to help users learn to select foods that will keep them within their preferred glucose range.

The Snaq app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play marketplace for iPhone and Android smartphones, respectively. In addition to Ascensia’s glucose meters, it can also take in information from continuous glucose monitors like those from Dexcom and Abbott as well as “smart” insulin pens like Medtronic’s InPen.