Health & Nutrition 3.0 : Instant analysis of your food

Monday, 19 May 2014 - 7:22am IST | Agency: DNA

Health and nutrition has undergone three stages of innovation. The first was with the coming of the health books and guides and fitness magazines; we did not need to guess what foods or herbs were good for us anymore,

making it possible to enhance our life quality by making better decisions.

The second stage of innovation came with mobile applications and software, where we could manually enter.

what food we ate and the approximate calorie content would be calculated. The third stage was necessary because those approximated calories were way off the actual amounts and the problem of tracking calories and nutrients wasn't solved. This stage brings in handheld scanners that can detect the ingredients and calories in food on our plates by using smaller versions of the technology that food scientists have long used.

With Health and Nutrition 3.0 we have two prominent players in the field: both used competing crowd funding platforms to generate large sums. The first is Tellspec, a food scanner by TellSpec Inc and second is SCiO, a molecular sensor by Consumer Physics.

"Thanks to a new era of open information, today's consumers are no longer passive; they are empowered to be more informed about what they're eating and the choices they're making," said Isabel Hoffmann, CEO of TellSpec. "Food technology companies can now provide access to promising new threads of knowledge for consumers."

Both these products are based on Spectroscopy. Consumer Physics describes the process by saying "The physical basis for this material analysis method is that each type of molecule vibrates in its own unique way, and these vibrations interact with light to create a unique optical signature.

SCiO includes a light source that illuminates the sample and an optical sensor called a spectrometer that collects the light reflected from the sample. The spectrometer breaks down the light to its spectrum, which includes all the information required to detect the result of this interaction between the illuminated light and the molecules in the sample.

To deliver relevant information in real time, SCiO communicates the spectrum of the sample to a smartphone via Bluetooth, which in turn forwards it to a cloud-based service for review. Advanced algorithms utilize an updatable database to analyze the spectrum within milliseconds and deliver information about the analyzed sample back to the user's smartphone in real time."

Having managed to really miniaturize the sensor and analyse a lot more materials than its competitor, Consumer Physics has taken the lead in the race in terms of functionality, size and cost.SCiO is currently available for pre-order via kicstarter.com for Rs 12,000 wheras Tellspec is available for approximately Rs 18,700 with additional expense of Rs 4,000 per year after the complementary first year.


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