Unless you’re making every single meal from scratch, it is almost impossible to tell what ingredients are hiding in your child’s food. For those kids with food sensitivities or serious food allergies, birthday parties, potlucks, and dining out can be nerve-wracking and far from enjoyable. Spurred by her own daughter’s challenges with mold in her environment and problems with gluten, Isabel Hoffmann created the TellSpec. Developed along with Stephen Watson, the handheld device is smaller than a phone and uses a spectrometer to reveal a dish’s hidden elements and it then sends the information to a smartphone, computer, or servers in the cloud.
The TellSpec not only allows the user to discover what lies within the contents of each plate, but can also help determine an allergy. The gadget logs the frequency of attacks after scanning food to narrow down the possible offenders. While not an exact diagnosis, the TellSpec can at least provide enough data to guide a doctor in the right direction and save a child a number of uncomfortable trips to the clinic. In addition to ferreting out possible problems, the TellSpec can also determine how many calories per gram exist as well as the amount of salt, fat, and sugar that are lurking in a meal.
TellSpec has already been successfully funded through Indiegogo, and will become available for sale in August for about $350-$490. Hoffmann and Watson hope that they will be able to reduce the price to $50 per unit within the next couple of years. They plan to add a camera to the device that helps estimate volume so the TellSpec can state exactly how much of a particular compound is about to be eaten. Since most of the symptoms will be logged in real time, the team would like to build an online database that could help pinpoint outbreaks of deadly illnesses like e. coli or salmonella. For a quick 20 second scan of the food being served, the TellSpec can provide a little peace of mind so diners can enjoy a meal without incident.