Star Trek Tricorder-Like Device Made To Scan Food
We've been seeing quite a lot of new Star Trek inspired devices being developed lately. Many of them similar to tricorders. While several of these new diagnostic tools are focusing on the medical side of the tricorder functionality, we found one the other day (thanks to our friend Drew) that is focused on analyzing food.
This new tool, by TellSpec is designed to scan your food, right on your plate, and tell you what's in it and how much. If this new scanner hits the market, functioning as described, it will be a great tool for those watching calories for weight loss and those looking to stay within safe dietary parameters for diabetes and other health concerns. While it isn't quite to the consumer-ready phase (they're still working on making it as small and good looking as the design calls for), it is well on its way to living up to all of the goals these developers have set for it.
What problem can TellSpec solve?
You want to know what’s in your food before you buy it, before you order it, and before you eat it – because the quality of your health depends on what you eat. Many foods contain chemicals and allergens that you want to avoid, but it can be difficult to know whether these chemicals and allergens are in your food or not. How can you tell if your food contains the nutrients you need? What about things like sodium or trans fats that you might be trying to avoid? Food labels can give us some information if they’re available, but they are not always intelligible and some ingredients may not even be reported. TellSpec tells you about allergens, chemicals, nutrients, calories, and ingredients in your food before you buy it, order it, or eat it.
How Will It Work?
When you beam the light in the TellSpec scanner at a food product, some of the photons in the light are absorbed, which raises the energy states of the molecules in the food. Lower-energy photons are then emitted back. The spectrometer inside the TellSpec scanner sorts these photons by wavelength and counts them. The resulting numbers, called a spectrum, describe the chemical compounds in the food. This spectrum is uploaded to TellSpec’s analysis engine where it’s analyzed and correlated with other reference spectra. Information about allergens, chemicals, nutrients, calories, and ingredients in the food is then downloaded and displayed on your smartphone.
The inventor of TellSpec, Isabel Hoffmann, started pursuing the idea of this product when her daughter began having health problems that were later found to be food and environment triggered.
Isabel Hoffmann's daughter fell sick after the family moved to the U.S. from Europe. The 14-year-old's illness got progressively worse — hives, low blood pressure, tremors and light sensitivity — to the point that she had to drop out of school. To make matters worse, no doctor could determine what was causing the chronic illness.
Hoffmann, a serial entrepreneur who helped launch a preventive health clinic in 2001, took matters into her own hands. She brought her daughter to Dr. Neil Nathan, of Gordon Medical Associates in Santa Rosa, Calif., who'd written a book called, On Hope and Healing: For Those Who Have Fallen Through the Medical Cracks.
Dr. Nathan diagnosed Hoffmann's daughter with mold toxicity, likely Aspergillus Penicillium, which causes severe allergic reactions and sensitivity to gluten, dioxins and other allergens. "He was dead right," says Hoffmann. "We went back home and tested the house and learned we had high doses of Aspergillus and Penicillium mold in the bedroom."
It had taken more than a year for Hoffmann to hear a proper diagnosis and learn the empowering information that could help her daughter get better. The family moved to a mold-free environment and the teenager started a new diet; symptoms vanished, she went back to school and her grades skyrocketed.
"That’s when I thought, "Oh my God, how many people go through life suffering so much? And almost giving up — with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia — and resigning themselves to what they have, without a hope to be better?" says Hoffmann.
What's being designed is:
The world’s first handheld device able to scan food so consumers know more about the ingredients before they buy or eat the food. TellSpec brings together spectroscopy and a unique mathematical algorithm in a revolutionary system that can analyze the chemical composition of foods. This system consists of a convenient handheld wireless scanner communicating with a fast cloud analysis engine. These work together to gather the spectrum of your food, analyze that spectrum, and display information about the food in an easy-to-understand interface on your smartphone.