Tech Company Using Lasers and Smartphones to Scan Food for Nutrients and Poison

Tellspec is a spectrometer scanner and smartphone app that’s been developed to help you learn more about the things you put in your mouth. It works like magic. Just wave the beam across something you want to eat and it will tell you the nutritional content (or pesticides) via a smartphone app. It’s also possibly a scam.

Light is made up of particles called photons. When you beam the low-powered laser in the TellSpec scanner at the food, some of the photons are absorbed, raising the energy states of the molecules in the food. Lower energy photons are then reflected 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.

The video is just a demo of the device using the , but the makers seems confident that it won’t adversely affect the edibles you are scanning. Beta testers were able to accurately identify food content about 97.7% of the time with 99.8% for gluten detection.

While I think it may be a neat gadget to have around during Thanksgiving, many users online have pointed to the possibility that the Indiegogo campaign from Tellspec might be a scam. The product and possibly technology has only been in development for nine months – a short amount of time to create science or magic. In order to meet the funding goal, the team will need $650,000 to develop the technology. However, Indiegogo has a flexible funding option that will let them keep all of the funding money collected, even if they do not meet their funding goal. So far, that’s 232 funders and $43,332.

What do you think? Is this technology readily available? How confident are you in giving money to projects without proof of concept?