Welcome to the NASA ISS FIT (Food Intake Tracker) iPad App Challenge!
As part of this challenge, participants are tasked with formulating a leading edge solution to an intractable, age old problem: How can I keep track of what I’m eating?
We all know that there are a dozen, if not hundreds of solutions out there that can help. But imagine you live on a 925,000 lb floating space platform that is orbiting the Earth at a height of 230 miles at a speed of nearly 17,500 MPH. And you’re busy. Very busy.
Astronauts, Cosmonauts, and Space Cadets (okay, we made the last one up), all face huge technical challenges, are performing scientific experiments on a daily basis, and are working hard to stay fit. One of the key aspects of this is working to understand how microgravity affects their bodies, and how to best keep them healthy. And as part of both space medicine and science, we need to understand what they’ve eaten, and how much they’ve eaten.
Sounds simple, right? Not really.
Hey, look, SPACE PEOPLE eating SPACE FOOD!
It’s important that NASA monitors the dietary intake of crews during flight to prevent the possibility of crewmembers not consuming enough calories – this is done to prevent nutrient deficiencies, bone and muscle loss, kidney stones, and other health risks. Sounds serious? That’s because it is. The more time you spend in space, the higher the negative impact to your body.
We should’ve posted a less scary image, like a SPACE FOOD PYRAMID. That would’ve been really cool.
One key element to astronaut health is nutrition. There’s a method for ensuring that we can minimize the negative impact to ISS crewmembers bodies. It’s simple, really. Track what you eat and how much you’ve eaten, and then folks on the ground can make recommendations to help steer crewmembers in the right direction, and also understand how to best feed crews on future exploration missions. Generally, we’ve found that ISS crewmembers who consume enough calories do much better in terms of maintaining body weight, protecting bone and muscle mass and cardiovascular function during a mission.
I’m sure space pushups are really easy.
The current method for tracking dietary intake is the Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ). This is a weekly recall of what you’ve eaten, downlinked to the ground for analysis of several key nutrients. The FFQ has been able to show that crewmembers who have consumed more meals containing fish also lost less bone over a 6-month mission. We believe this is related to the omega-3 fatty acid content of fish, but data from the FFQ does not provide this level of detailed analysis. We need to fix this.
No low-calorie foods allowed. Ok, we’re kidding. But seriously. The more calories, the better.
Also, the FFQ is not that easy to use, and some crewmembers find it hard to remember what they ate in the past 7 days. So we need to make the input process easier, and we need a more detailed log of dietary intake so that we can better understand the role of nutrition in spaceflight, and provide better dietary recommendations to help mitigate the negative physiological effects of spaceflight.
So here’s the challenge: we need to design, develop and produce an iPad application that will allow ISS crewmembers to easily enter foods. The application should seamlessly identify the user, track all dietary intake (food and beverages), and provide a timestamp of when the food was consumed. While many of the foods have barcode labels on them – many do not, especially foods crews take in their “bonus” containers, which provide some unique food items.
Currently, the “high-level” requirements for the application are:
So what’s coming up, and how do I register?
|Contest Type||Duration||% Comp.||Start||End|
|Voice Command Idea Generation||10 Days||100%||2/10/2013||2/19/2013|
|Barcode Scanning Idea Generation||8 Days||100%||2/18/2013||2/25/2013|
|Face-Object Recognition Idea Generation||10 Days||100%||2/25/2013||3/6/2013|
|Wireframe Contest||12 Days||100%||3/8/2013||3/19/2013|
|Mobile Screen Design Contest||13 Days||100%||4/25/2013||5/7/2013|
|System Architecture||20 Days||100%||5/5/2013||5/24/2013|
|OpenCV PoC Assembly||15 Days||7%||6/4/2013||6/18/2013|
|Prototype Conversion Assembly||12 Days||6/5/2013||6/16/2013|
|Frontend Module Architecture||12 Days||6/17/2013||6/28/2013|
|Data Services Module Architecture||12 Days||6/17/2013||6/28/2013|
|Recognition Services Module Architecture||12 Days||6/17/2013||6/28/2013|
|Data Services Module Assembly||12 Days||6/29/2013||7/10/2013|
|Recognition Services Module Architecture||12 Days||6/29/2013||7/10/2013|
|Frontend Module Assembly||12 Days||7/11/2013||7/22/2013|
|Bug Hunt||5 Days||7/23/2013||7/27/2013|
*PLEASE NOTE: The contest start and end dates are estimates only, and may shift forward or backwards depending on contest progress. To verify a contest start date, please click the contest name to view the registration page.*
SPACE FOODS = SPACE YUM.
What, no Tang?
Space is the only place where playing with your food can be considered science, said Don Pettit, seen here with friend composed of flat bread, peanut butter, and dark chocolate covered coffee beans.