Search tech innovator Evincii, which unleashed its pharmacist-in-your-pocket app on the sick and groggy masses in late 2009, is now announcing its latest brainchild, the Shop to Lose app for those who need a little help in the grocery shopping department.
"This time we have a dietician in the pocket," Evincii CEO Charlie Koo tells me. "The ideal audience is the 200 million Americans who are overweight and obese."
The app, which features (right) a woman who doesn't appear to need it biting into an apple she probably picked without the search engine, is essentially grocery shopping for dummies. And, considering the obesity epidemic in the U.S., said dummies are running (well, probably sitting) amok, in dire need of a system that tells them what to buy and what to avoid.
There are a few things I really like about Shop to Lose. For one, it's free, at least for the next six months. It's also easy to use, allowing for users to develop profiles with specific diet targets.
I also like the color legend in the upper right of every product page, showing whether something is good (green), OK (yellow), or bad (red) for each specific user. Buy too many red zone items and a sad face appears and grows grumpier the more you load your cart with garbage food.
But perhaps the best feature is sharing your shopping cart and weight target with friends and even betting on whether someone will attain said goals. Want to lose a pound a week this spring? Double-dog dare you can do it, and you just might make some money if you do.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of the thousands of items to search through are food products, and if the vast majority of items in one's grocery cart are food products (i.e. frozen pizza) instead of actual food (i.e. the apple in the model's happy mouth), you're off to a bad start.
Also, the app has a ways to go before it allows users to search through local eateries (although I was surprised to find Portland, Ore.'s Burgerville made the cut) as well as local brands (I try to buy my meat, dairy, and veggies locally), so one has to want food products more than food and national chains/brands more than local ones to get a lot of satisfaction using this app.
Bottom line: Shop to Lose is a good starting point for the grocery shopping dummy. Ideally, it will render itself obsolete as its users learn that buying such things as fresh produce and bulk grains will get them a lot further than almost any of the products in the search engine.