When it comes to eating healthy, many people would say that you have to count calories, or at least track your food intake using an app or an old school notebook. But counting calories may not get you eating healthier, especially if you go out to eat and don’t know the specific caloric intake of the food you ordered. So, what do you do? Well, one day in the future, you might have a personal food scanner that will tell you everything about the meal in front of you, from its nutritional content to any lingering harmful ingredients like allergens.

Horizon Prizes are "challenge" prizes, in the form of a cash reward, to whoever can most effectively meet a defined challenge. The aim is to stimulate innovation and come up with solutions to problems that matter to European citizens. One of those solutions is the personal scanner, so Horizon Prizes is offering one million Euros to the inventors who can come up with the best prototypes. The first place winner will receive 800,000 Euros, with second and third place receiving 100,000 Euros each.

"Healthy eating is a key way of limiting certain diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases," EU project officer Gerald Cultot, who was involved in designing the terms of the prize, told Horizon Magazine.

Cultot said this personal scanner is the opposite end of the spectrum in relation to fitness apps. Those apps tell you how much energy you exert, but there aren’t many apps that show how much you’ve consumed. This personal scanner would take care of that, showing people how much food they consume at any given moment.

In order for the prize to be awarded, the scanner must be able to analyze food composition, nutrition facts, and potentially harmful ingredients such as allergens. The third stipulation is aimed at those with food allergies who may not always know exactly what went into the food they’re about to eat or how their supposedly “allergen-free” meal was created.

The reason Horizon Prizes is staging this “competition” for the public is because it wants to find inventors out there who normally wouldn’t apply for a standard research project. However, this might be the most ambitious challenge yet. Previous prizes included one for a bacteria test in February, one for finding a better way to share bandwidth and higher speed optical data transmission in March, and another for materials that can improve the air quality of cities in April.