We’ve always been told that if we workout and eat healthy; we shall enjoy good health. Back in the days it was easier to ascertain which food was considered healthy and which wasn’t. Nowadays, it’s a bit more complex than that. Also if you’re on a diet then you are no doubt watching your calorie intake and that’s a problem when you want to try out something. Probably these were the reasons that compelled Isabel Hoffmann and Stephen Watson, mathematician, to come up with this super cool gadget; TellSpec.
TellSpec is the name of the gadget and its works by you pointing it towards your food and the device verifying what’s in it for you. The gadget is capable of warning you about allergens, harmful ingredient and chemicals of course, but; what is really fascinating is its ability to narrow down your food sensitivities and keep a record of the vitamins you’re taking. The goal is to allow people to carry out checking of their food just like they check anything else before using it.
Isabel said; ‘We want to promote healthier eating, alert those who have allergies and educate consumers by telling them exactly what’s in their food – beyond what the label says.’ Moving on to the working principle of this gadget; TellSpec employs the use of a Raman spectrometer, smartphone app and an algorithm which is based on cloud. All that a user needs to do is to point their gadget to the food and at the touch of a button a low powered laser is fired and reflected waves are analyzed to display the food components and their chemistry. Next step involves uploading of this data to the analysis engine which then works on the provided information and makes use of reference data which includes spectra and is able to carry out interpretation via database. The results of all this computing are then transferred to the smartphone app which is ready to convey them to the user.
Isabel claims that the gadget is able to identify food along with ingredients almost 99.7% of the time. She said; ‘Depending on how transparent the surface of the food is, the more accurate the scan will be. Users must understand that these scans can only go so deep. To scan a Twinkie, the user could do two separate scans for a more accurate reading; one at the surface and then a second in the center of the Twinkie.”’
For the creation of the database the team has scanned 3,000 food items however they are sure this database once the users grow and their scans are added to the database. This increase is expected to be exponential. As of now the company has plans to distribute only 82 units of this gadget in Northern Hemisphere hopefully in spring next year.
Isabel further says; ‘This is the crowd-sourced element of our clean food revolution. It is literally in the hands of the people. It is they who will truly participate actively in creating a global footprint of food data. The food database is an evolving number – the more people scan, the more the database grows and the more precise the scans become.’
Like we’ve mentioned before; TellSpec can give you the food breakdown in one gram hence allowing you to make sure that you don’t eat higher number of calories than you really need to. Although it doesn’t essentially identifies if there are any allergies, however, based on your feedback it can ascertain what might be making you feel so down after your food. Isabel explained; ‘It will ask you how you feel. If you tell TellSpec you feel bloated, it will suggest that it may be caused by lactose and that you should check with your doctor about the possibility of an allergy.’ She went on to explain what she foresees for this invention; ‘Eventually, the food data ‘bank’ will compile across time, peoples’ historical food data and individual symptoms at a global level. These correlations between how people feel and what they really eat will eventually lead to a ‘TellSpecodedia’ of food data and personalized health information.’
TellSpec data will be open source so all will be allowed to build using this gadget’s model. Isabel said; ‘By sharing our API with the world, we want TellSpec to engage the crowd-sourcing power that a group and population bring to any problem. One or two brains on any food issue would not yield the answers that the world could definitely benefit from. We want this to be an open source for new applications and new fields of study that grow from a source of food data that has never been available before.’
The shipment of this awesome gadget is expected to begin in August 2014 at a price of $320 and a whole year free scans after which you’ll have to subscribe to the subscription plans. TellSpec is a great invention indeed which will prove useful in the future to come.