Whatsinit? the ingredients app that tells you what's in food
Whatsinit? the ingredients app that tells you what's in food
A new, innovative food tech app, created with medical and food professionals, which helps users understand ingredients on food labels.
A new, innovative food tech app, created with medical and food professionals, which helps users understand ingredients on food labels. Read more
About this project
Whatsinit? the food ingredients app
Whatsinit? is a new, innovative food tech app that uses an extensive and constantly growing database to help users quickly and clearly understand exactly what is in their food.
The app was built by us, Rob Renton and Temi Alanamu, in partnership with medical, food and health professionals to increase food transparency and ensure that everyone can understand food ingredients.
The inspiration for the project came in 2015 when we both lost our jobs. Between the two of us, we did not find work for 6-12 months. During this time, funds became so incredibly scarce that we could no longer afford to buy fresh, perishable foods and had to increasingly depend on cheaper, processed foods that lasted longer.
When we read the ingredients labels on these foods, we quickly realised that we had no clue what many of the ingredients actually meant.
L-tryptophan, Soy lecithin, Calcium carbonate, Magnesium sulphate, Bifidobacterium, Guar gum, Monocalcum citrate, Modified maize starch, Isomaltitol, Acesulfame K, Amylose, Palatone, Gluconic acid, Sorbitan monostearate, Nicotinic acid, Ammonium adipate….What was all this stuff?
I, Temi, had been diagnosed from birth with Sickle cell anaemia, a genetic disease that affects the entire body, and a good diet has always been a key part of my lifestyle and an important way to manage my condition.
I was now suddenly confronted with ingredients that I knew nothing about. Were these 'science' ingredients healthy? Were they harmful? Were they safe for me? Were they safe for our child? Everyone talked about fat and sugar content but only a few people spoke about which additives and chemicals were harmful and which were safe. What sweeteners to stay away from, which colours could potentially cause long-term damage to health or quite simply, what any of it was and why it was in our food!
After weeks of countless internet searches trying to research every single ingredient on every food label, we decided that this was not a sustainable way to live. Since there were no apps that gave us the quick but accurate information that we needed in the limited time that we had, we decided to build it.
And just like that, we formed Whatsinit?
Now, two years later, the minimum viable product has debuted on the App Store and Google play and is ready to change lives.
Users can look up any ingredient by typing, saying or taking a picture of any ingredients label.
Once searched, users receive a full list of the ingredients, all colour-coded according to safety, a jargon-free description that is never more than 12 words and a detailed but clear and comprehensible description that includes aliases, nutrients and potential side effects.
Users can also quickly and easily:
Personalise the app using the allergies, intolerances and dislikes (aid) function which lets them blacklist and avoid any ingredient, or entire food groups.
Use the app offline without internet access.
Save and share any ingredients or food items discovered across social media.
Whatsinit? also features a wealth of in-app original content that is regularly created by medical professionals, nutritionists, dieticians and trainers, including: blog posts on wellness, insightful ‘did you know’ facts, unbiased product reviews, and a curated summary of the latest food-related news.
The app is unique because it shows the link between many common ingredients and both minor and serious side effects in a quick, simple and assessable way. The entire content is and will continue to be original. So, it cannot be accessed elsewhere.
Whatsinit? goes beyond ingredients in processed food and incorporates over 25 food categories including fats, proteins, sugars and sweeteners, vegetables, grains and even probiotic bacteria that is used to ferment foods. If humans eat it, we have and will write to about it.
The basic viable product is available free on the App Store and Google play and anyone can use and test the app. This is just the start of the revolution. Now we need your help to complete the app. This process will include:
-Expanding the database to include even more ingredients.
-Translating the database to multiple languages to reach larger numbers around the world and ensure that more people only buy safe products that they understand.
-Improving the allergies, intolerances and dislikes (aid) function to accommodate a wider range of medical problems.
-Optimising the camera function to work quicker and more efficiently.
-Paying for the APIs that keep the app functioning so that we can keep the basic version free, forever.
Whatsinit? is the ultimate ingredients app that takes the guess work out of choosing food. With your help, everyone will have the tool to make informed choices.
We are certain that such transparency will lead to a more informed, confident consumer who will be less prone to fad diets, 'fake' food news and colourful but misleading advertising.
Thank you for taking the time to read our pitch.
Risks and challenges
Whatsinit? builds and improves on existing technology to solve a unique problem. For us, the question was not ‘can this be done?’ as many people have tried to solve this problem, but ‘can this be done well?’. This is why we developed the app first as a proof of concept before we asked for support.
Whatsinit? was painstakingly built over two years to produce an app that has the potential to bring meaningful knowledge and improve the quality of life of many people.
We overcame technological and scientific hurdles and now that the minimum viable product has been built to a standard that one observer called ‘the best app MVP that they have ever used’, we are confident that although there is much work to be done, we will now simply be improving on what is already an outstanding product.
Research challenges: One challenge for this project will be recruiting the necessary personnel who will continue to simplify technical and scientific concepts so that they are accessible to everyone. We have so far worked with respected health and medical professionals and we continue to have access to a talented scientific workforce.
Technical challenges: Another challenge will be getting the final product to function as intended. We currently have a highly skilled development team who continue to code, adapt and innovate technology. The completed app will also build on an already proven concept which will save time and resources.
User challenges: The final challenge faced by Whatsinit? is gaining publicity and getting the app to the people that need it the most. We have already mapped out an effective publicity and marketing campaign that we are confident will be effective. We have also began exploring avenues to work with public and charitable health foundations to adapt the app and make it available to more people.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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