New imaging software designed to detect the type and quantity of food from a digital photograph of what?s on the plate could benefit people keen to monitor their diet.

The data can then be used to create a digital diary of daily meals, explains Japan?s Nikkei newspaper.

The software analyses images of food based on such factors as colour and shape, as well as the ?sizes and shapes of their plates and bowls?, according to Pen News Weekly.

?It analyses the digital images of the meal on the table to identify five components: main dishes, side dishes, food staple, fruit and dairy,? adds the Tokyo-based trade journal.

?The captured images are compared against a database of 600 images to identify foods and discriminate foods and non-food items.?

Developed by researchers at the University of Tokyo the software is due to be distributed over the internet for free download later this year.

Tests apparently showed that the software was able to correctly identify foods with 90% accuracy and classify foods with 80% accuracy.