Brian Mueller’s Carrot suite of apps have become popular by sadistically pushing users into better behaviors. The latest is Carrot Hunger, an artificially intelligent calorie counter that will shame or reward you for your eating habits.
The app lets you scan food bar codes and log what you’ve had for the day to keep an accurate account of what you’re stuffing your face with. It will warn you if you are about to go over your calories with an almost Dalek-like feel.
She (I asked and yes, the artificial intelligence behind Carrot Hunger is considered a lady) knows when you’ve opened the fridge and will yell at you if you’ve already had too much. She gets mean if you ignore her, too.
But you can bribe her for a fee. It’s how the freemium app makes money. You make an in-app purchase to keep your minder quiet or face the wrath of a pile of ads.
Sometimes these ads are fake. There’s one that asks if you want fries. if you click it, it shames you for being weak. The app plants these just to taunt you.
Creator Brian Mueller says he enjoys coming up with the sometimes brutal dialogue. A former screen writer who taught himself how to design and code via online tutorials, he believes it’s the humor that works for people. “It’s not just another productivity app. It’s done in a funny way, not just mean to be mean,” he told me.
Mueller shies away from collecting specifics on people for privacy reasons. However, the app does want to know certain things about you, such as how tall you are and whether you are male, female, or squirrel (it asks) to ascertain your daily calories.
The caloric restrictions for weight loss seem a bit austere in my opinion. I should be eating roughly 1800 calories/day to maintain my weight but around 800 if I plan to lose 2 pounds a week. I’m no artificially intelligent weight loss manager, though.
Mueller’s not sure how effective the app is compared to what else is out there, but has heard anecdotally from people who’ve lost 5-100 pounds of weight through the method.