Handheld Device Tellspec can Detect Allergens, Chemicals and Nutrients in Food
The industrialization of food production freed people up to pursue careers other than farming.But it also incentivized food companies and restaurants to use low-cost ingredients that taste or look good but often are neither healthful nor natural. For people with food allergies or diet-related diseases such as Celiac and diabetes, eating foods with unknown ingredients is a high-risk activity.
All of these diseases are on the rise in the United States and other developed countries, according to some researchers due to the same lack of exposure to livestock and soil.
For this particular ill of the post-War era, there’s now a 21st-century workaround: a hand-held spectrometer that can determine exactly what is in the user’s food and display it on his or her smartphone.
A Toronto company called TellSpec has developed a spectroscopy data-crunching algorithm that runs in the cloud and delivers nuggets of useful information to the user through a smartphone app. The idea for the device came from co-founder Isabel Hoffman’s daughter, who suffers from gluten intolerance and other food allergies.
“Until recently, spectrometers were large and expensive, but now they are available as tiny affordable chips,” explained Hoffman.
TellSpec has been testing its software using off-the-shelf spectrometers, but it recently completed an IndieGoGo campaign to contract production of its prototyped device, which will power a Raman spectrometer laser beam with batteries that can be recharged through a USB port.