Like a speed gun for food, a new handheld electronic device allows users to scan food for molecular content, identifying the content and calorie count via laser. The scanner analyzes photons emitted from food molecules, sorting them by wavelength and counting them to identify the chemical compounds in the food, sending the results to one’s cellphone.
The spectrometer would allow a person with celiac disease or gluten allergy the ability to detect their “kryptonite,” even small amounts of the allergen that contaminate gluten-free restaurant dishes in busy kitchens, at home, and out on the town. The device also estimates a given item’s calorie count, potentially revolutionizing the world of dieting.
Isabel Hoffman, the CEO of startup manufacturer TellSpec, says she was inspired to invent the device after her daughter received a diagnosis of severe allergy to gluten, mold, and certain food dyes. “My daughter’s health and my desire to help others like her provided the motivation to make TellSpec,” Hoffman said in a statement. “My goal now is to help people like my daughter to lead a normal life with the knowledge to choose clean healthy food.”
The Canadian company says they expect to begin manufacturing the device within the next three to four months after the machine, which is now a prototype, is evaluated independently for accuracy. Presently, the company is accepting pledges of $150 for pre-orders of the device.
Sara Bleich, an associate professor of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins University, told ABC News this month the device would be great — if it works. “Among those who do report seeing the calorie information, there is pretty compelling evidence that is leads them to make a lower calorie choice,” Bleich said. “It would be great if it could be created as an app so people would always have it with them on their phone. Convenience is very important when you are trying to encourage behavior change." Although not yet verified for accuracy, the device has created a buzz online as the company reports raising $380,000 from pre-orders for the device.
Below is a video on the TellSpec: