Hand-held Food Scanner Knows What You’re About to Eat (TellSpec)
File this under “technology you thought was science fiction”. TellSpec (4 days left on IndieGogo) is a pocketable food spectrometer that you can aim at your food and perform on-the-spot analysis to obtain information such as whether the food you’re about to eat contains chemicals, allergens as well as how much sodium, gluten or trans fats the food contains.
TellSpec is a three-part system which includes: (1) a spectrometer scanner, (2) a cloud service and (3) a smart phone app. Aim, wait for the beep and then learn about your food. It works through plastic and glass, so it’s something that would work at grocery stores before purchases are made. It’s $450 to two units.
The handheld scanner is a Raman spectrometer. The low-powered laser inside the scanner emits coherent light through the front window. Stimulated light from the sample is then collected through a filter in the window that removes the Rayleigh scattered light. The light then passes through a diffraction grating that disperses the light onto a CCD detector. The CCD detector converts the light into an electrical signal that is then digitized and sent to the smart phone over Bluetooth.
The smart phone receives the digital spectrum of the food and transmits it to the TellSpec analysis engine which processes it, compares it to reference spectra, and runs a learning algorithm on it. The output is interpreted through a large database, and information about the food is selected and customized for the user. The smart phone then downloads the information and displays it to the user.
Our designs for the scanner and the user interface are guided by the principle that interested people should be able to use the TellSpec system easily and immediately, without training and without reading a user manual; and they should be able to understand and use the displayed information without an extensive knowledge of food chemistry.