The device 'TellSpec', developed in Toronto, can simply be pointed at a food item, to identify what's in it.

For the calorie conscious, TellSpec can breakdown the amount of sugars, fats and more per gram of a scanned food item.

The device aims to help people make clean food choices by letting them "check their food as easily as they check their mail," its makers said.

The scanner utilises a small Raman spectrometer, a unique cloud-based algorithm and a simple smartphone app. Scanning a food item on the plate or in a shopping aisle is as simple as aiming TellSpec at it and pushing a button.

It beams a low-powered laser at the item and analyses the reflected light waves to identify the chemical makeup of the food, 'Gizmag' reported.

This data is uploaded to the analysis engine which processes the information, compares it to reference spectra, interprets the results with the help of a database, and downloads the results to the user's smartphone.

The device can successfully identify foods and their ingredients approximately 97.7 per cent of the time after scanning the food's surface.

Around 3,000 food items were scanned to create the initial database, but TellSpec can potentially identify an unlimited number of ingredients, according to Founder and CEO Isabel Hoffmann, who developed the scanner along with mathematician Stephen Watson.

The device's ability to make identifications is expected to increase exponentially as the number of TellSpec users grow, and add their own scans of different food items.

The scanner is expected to be ready for shipping by August next year.


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