Technical Update

Dear Indiegogo Supporters,

This is a long-overdue technical update. Although marketing and publicity efforts continue, of course, this update is about what we are doing to create the actual product which we promised to you.

TellSpec food sensor is a more difficult thing to do than we thought at first, but this does not say that we have not made a tremendous progress in our endeavor, we have. Spectroscopy is complex, and changes not only with what you are scanning, but with how old it is, how moist it is, even how smooth it is. In order to handle not only lots of different foods but also all the different conditions they may be in, we are taking a huge number of reference scans to build TellSpec’s spectrum library of food ingredients. That effort is underway, and we have concentrated initially on grain-based foods: breads, cakes, crackers etc. We have also scanned various types of dairy products, both from cows and from the likes of rice, soy, and almonds, and some fruits and vegetables. We are actively building this library and we have now well over a quarter of a million scans.

In addition to building TellSpec’s library of food scans we are working on the scanner itself. We started with a couple of uncased units cobbled together from off-the-shelf spectrometer components, and then built a couple of roughly boxed units which were easier to use and took more consistent scans. All of those were tabletop units with a wired connection to a laptop and to power.

We now have a few handheld, wireless working “beta” scanners. They are still too large, but they are suitable for demonstration purposes, and they are the mid point for our full miniaturization effort. Making the scanner small has many challenges, such as having a bright enough light to create a spectrum, but having enough space to keep it from getting too hot. There are also limits to how small the optics of the spectrometer be made. The electronics has the most scope for miniaturization, and the progress is slow and expensive. And of course the battery has to be large enough to run it all, especially the light source. That source is an incandescent bulb; LEDs don’t produce the broad and smooth infra-red output that we need. We are confident that within a few more months we will have much smaller handled wireless units.

One area of hardware research which we are pursuing right now is the choice between our current PDA (photodiode array) detector and a DLP (digital light processor, a.k.a. digital mirror device) detector. There are tradeoffs of cost, complexity, and performance for us to evaluate.

Meanwhile, our algorithms team is creating and improving our exiting machine-learning-based spectrum analysis method to find the best ways to identify and quantify the various components in the foods we scan. As you can imagine, the list of components is almost as long as the list of foods! In addition to the obvious Calories, fats, carbs, and protein there are the ingredients and additives which go into any recipe or packaged food.

Our www.tellspecopedia.com already lists over a thousand five hundred food ingredients and their relationship to health, and there are many thousands to go. Keeping up with the chemical companies will be an on-going task.

Behind the scenes is the database and software that runs in the cloud. We have the analysis software running, and being constantly updated as the algorithms team makes improvements. The database collects scans and results for use whenever needed by the user who collected them. To come is software for supporting our users, with their own preferences for what they want to see, eg particular allergens or nutrients. Also to come is algorithms to collect your “body info”, ie how you are feeling, and make suggestions about how that relates to what you have been eating.

All in all we are progressing on many fronts, discovering and overcoming many unanticipated challenges along the way. It will be a longer road than we expected at first, but we will believe we will reach the first major goal in a 5 to 8 months, and put a TellSpec scanner in your hands. And after that we will continue to improve our cloud software and smartphone apps, to make TellSpec ever more useful to you.

We leave you with short video filmed November 8th, 2014, at the Engadget Expand in NY. We thank all of you that came to our booth to talk to us and see our demos both at this show and at the CES Unveil NY (which took place a few days later); in particular the many of you that contributed to our campaign and came directly to visit us to encourage and thank us.

Thank you!

— The TellSpec Team

CES Unveil NY 2014

Engadget Expand NY 2014

Tellspec CEO Isabel Hoffmann Speaks and Demos BETA Food Scanner Today at TEDGlobal 2014

20141008

This afternoon, our CEO Isabel Hoffmann will speak at TEDGlobal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She will give a demo of one of our first BETA units on stage. Hoffmann’s talk will cover the idea, inspiration and technology behind TellSpec, as well as the potential impact of creating a robust, global Food Print or a fingerprint of what people eat across the world. We hope that with this Food Print, scientists may one day use the data collected by TellSpec to draw correlations between the food we eat and public health.

One of the key characteristic of our food analysis engine is that as our database grows with each scan, our learning algorithms become more accurate. The more food scanned by people, the larger the food database and the larger the public memory of food composition and consumption. Essentially our project is a community project, a crowd sourcing project.

TellSpec BETA currently identifies calories, macronutrients (fats, protein and carbohydrates) and a limited number of ingredients all at reasonable concentrations in food. We are still working to miniaturize TellSpec and build the database to include additional ingredients before we deliver to our backers in 2015. As TellSpec’s database and algorithms evolve, TellSpec will continue to provide even more information beyond the nutritional label, thereby encouraging transparency in produce farming and food manufacturing, while educating the consumer on the wellness implications of each ingredient in their food, bringing an invaluable tool to users that can help them understand the foods they consume.

TEDGlobal is an annual 5-day conference that celebrates human ingenuity by exploring ideas, innovation and creativity from all around the world. You can livestream Isabel Hoffmann’s talk here. Hoffmann will be speaking in the 2:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. EDT timeslot.

Tellspec CEO Isabel Hoffmann Speaks and Demos BETA Food Scanner Today at TEDGlobal 2014

Dear Indiegogo Supporters,

TellSpec CEO Isabel Hoffmann Speaks and Demos BETA Food Scanner Today at TEDGlobal 2014

20141008

This afternoon, our CEO Isabel Hoffmann will speak at TEDGlobal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She will give a demo of one of our first BETA units on stage. Hoffmann’s talk will cover the idea, inspiration and technology behind TellSpec, as well as the potential impact of creating a robust, global Food Print or a fingerprint of what people eat across the world. We hope that with this Food Print, scientists may one day use the data collected by TellSpec to draw correlations between the food we eat and public health.

One of the key characteristic of our food analysis engine is that as our database grows with each scan, our learning algorithms become more accurate. The more food scanned by people, the larger the food database and the larger the public memory of food composition and consumption. Essentially our project is a community project, a crowd sourcing project.

TellSpec BETA currently identifies calories, macronutrients (fats, protein and carbohydrates) and a limited number of ingredients all at reasonable concentrations in food. We are still working to miniaturize TellSpec and build the database to include additional ingredients before we deliver to our backers in 2015. As TellSpec’s database and algorithms evolve, TellSpec will continue to provide even more information beyond the nutritional label, thereby encouraging transparency in produce farming and food manufacturing, while educating the consumer on the wellness implications of each ingredient in their food, bringing an invaluable tool to users that can help them understand the foods they consume.

TEDGlobal is an annual 5-day conference that celebrates human ingenuity by exploring ideas, innovation and creativity from all around the world. You can livestream Isabel Hoffmann’s talk here. Hoffmann will be speaking in the 2:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. EDT timeslot.

We hope you will share and celebrate with us in reaching a new and important developmental milestone!

Thank you for your continued support. TellSpec Team

Tellspecopedia

Dear Indiegogo Supporters,

On Tuesday TellSpec launched TELLSPECOPEDIA to help consumers better understand food ingredients and their impact on health. In contrast to a lot of the conflicting food ingredient information provided on the internet our food science researchers created a new and powerful searchable online database to provide consumers more credible information sources. They sorted and synthesized thousands of evidence based references to provide this robust searchable encyclopedia on food. TellSpecopedia is the educational companion to the TellSpec scanner.

tellspecopedia-screenshot

TellSpecopedia currently covers the most common and controversial 1,300 food ingredients ranging from additives, contaminants and manufacturing by-products to deliver scientific research on the food system quickly and comprehensibly. Each record in the database synthesizes information from several evidence based sources by listing an ingredient’s definition, health considerations, things to keep in mind, where the ingredient may be found, and alternative names and spellings, along with references and links to published studies for further reading. We hope our Indiegogo supporters will enjoy, use, and share the information with their friends and family.

Thank you for your support.

September News

Dear Indiegogo Supporters,

Since our last update, we continue to strengthen our algorithms and continue collecting more food data for the TellSpec food databank.

We are happy to report that the feasibility study was also completed successfully. As a result we are working on two parallel product development strategies; one short and the other long term. Our long term strategy will be to develop our food scanners based on the DLP technology as announced previously.

In the short term, we still have alternative arrangements with a global leader in optical sensing technologies that is building the beta and developer versions of TellSpec food scanners. Again, this alternative does not use DLP technology but it will be an NIR spectrometer with the same 900-1700 nm wavelength. We are still on schedule to start shipping beta testing units later this Fall.

Thank you for cheering us on and we want to assure you that we are all working very hard at moving through every challenge.

Thank you for continuing to motivate and inspire us.

The TellSpec Team

Artificial Colours Part 2

The food industry has a long history with food dyes, both synthetic and nature-derived. They are widely used because humans eat with their eyes. It’s important, however, to question and evaluate the safety of these synthetic food dyes. There are examples of food dyes widely used for years, then banned due to negative health effects, such as Orange 1. Today TellSpec is sharing the research on six synthetic food dyes possibly present in your food; with the exception of Orange 1, these are dyes that are currently approved as safe for use in noted nations.

yellow-5

Tartrazine is a synthetic yellow dye. Permitted in US, carries a warning in the UK and EU due to its effects seen in children. Frequently associated with food intolerance, linked to hyperactivity, aggression, irritability in children. Can act as hormonal disruptor by activating human estrogen receptors. Contains benzidene, a human carcinogen. Found in: soft drinks, pasta, chips, popcorn, candy, sauces.

Other names: FD&C Yellow 5, E102, C.I. 19140, Acid Yellow 23, Food Yellow 4

Yellow-6

Sunset Yellow FCF is a synthetic, yellow azo dye derived from petroleum. Voluntarily removed from food in the UK following consumer pressure. Considered safe in low amounts. Elevated intake in animals associated with enlargement of gastrointestinal and reproductive organs and diarrhea. Contains benzidene, a human carcinogen. Found in: cheeses, confectionery, marmalades, jams, baked goods, instant noodles, soft drinks, lemon gelatin, cake decorations.

Other names: Orange Yellow S, FD&C Yellow 6, C.I. 15985, E110

Yellow-10_

Quinoline yellow is a synthetic, green-yellow dye. Banned in US, Australia, Norway. Voluntarily removed from food in UK following consumer pressure. EU permits it but lowered allowable intake by 20-fold in 2009. In combination with sodium benzoate (common preservative, particularly in soft drinks), associated with hyperactivity in children. Reports of rashes and allergic reactions common. In animal studies with very high intake, has effects on white blood cell count and weight during pregnancy. Found in: soft drinks, jellies, caramels, processed seafood, caviar, liquors, juices, candies.

Other names: Quinoline Yellow WS, Food Yellow 13, D&C Yellow No. 10, Acid yellow 3, Quinidine Yellow KT, Japan Yellow 203, Lemon Yellow ZN 3, C.I. 47005

Green-3-Fast-Green

Fast Green FCF is a synthetic green dye. Banned from use in the EU; permitted in the US, though it is the least used food dye. In high doses in animals, associated with various cancers, impaired bone marrow function, changes in composition of blood. In cell-based studies, causes changes to chromosomes of DNA and interferes with function of neurons of the brain. Found in: sports drinks, sauces and dips, chewing gum, processed vegetables.

Other names: Food green 3, FD&C Green No. 3, E143, Green 1724, Solid Green FCF, and C.I. 42053

Blue-1-Brilliant-Blue
Brilliant Blue FCF is a synthetic, blue dye derived from petroleum. Long-term toxicity studies in animals have found it safe. At site of injection in rats, cancerous growths seen. Recently associated with negative health effects when given to patients in compromised health, particularly when given via feeding tube to hospital patients. FDA endorses its removal from healthcare settings. Found in: ice cream, liqueurs, popsicles, canned vegetables, candies, dairy products.
Other names: FD&C Blue No.1, Acid Blue 9, D&C Blue No. 4, Alzen Food Blue No. 1, Atracid, Blue FG, Erioglaucine, Eriosky blue, Patent Blue AR, Xylene Blue VSG, C.I. 42090

Blue-2-Indigotine

Indigotine is a synthetic, blue dye derived from coal tar. Approved for use in US and EU. In studies of rats, injection of high dose over an extended period of time impaired growth, caused cancerous growths, and in some animals caused immediate convulsive death. In pigs, altered blood composition and impaired liver function. Found in: cheeses, yogurt, frozen desserts, fruit purees and fillings, processed seafood.

Other names: FD&C Blue No. 2, Indigo carmine, E132, 5,5′-indigodisulfonic acid sodium salt

Artificial Colors Part I Tellspec Blog – Consumer Education

Artificial Colors Part I TellSpec Blog – Consumer Education

Read about how artificial colors in your food affects your health! Below is 1 example so connect to the link above to learn more.

For example: Amaranth is a dark red to purple, synthetic azo dye derived from petroleum. Banned from use in US in 1976; banned in Austria, Russia, Norway. Allowed in UK, France, Italy. Carcinogenic and reproductive health effects in rats. Human gut bacteria can alter it to produce toxic byproducts. Found in: glace cherries, caviar, ice cream, fruit fillings, boxed cake mixes.

Other names: FD&C Red No. 2, E123, C.I. Food Red 9, Acid Red 27, Azorubin S, or C.I. 16185

RED-2

Artificial Colours Part 1

The food industry has a long history with food dyes, both synthetic and nature-derived. They are widely used because humans eat with their eyes. It’s important, however, to question and evaluate the safety of these synthetic food dyes. There are examples of food dyes widely used for years, then banned due to negative health effects, such as Orange 1. Today TellSpec is sharing the research on five synthetic food dyes possibly present in your food; with the exception of Orange 1, these are dyes that are currently approved as safe for use in noted nations.

RED-2

Amaranth is a dark red to purple, synthetic azo dye derived from petroleum. Banned from use in US in 1976; banned in Austria, Russia, Norway. Allowed in UK, France, Italy. Carcinogenic and reproductive health effects in rats. Human gut bacteria can alter it to produce toxic byproducts. Found in: glace cherries, caviar, ice cream, fruit fillings, boxed cake mixes.

Other names: FD&C Red No. 2, E123, C.I. Food Red 9, Acid Red 27, Azorubin S, or C.I. 16185

RED-3
Erythrosine is a synthetic cherry-pink dye. Second least common in US where Allura Red is favored. Heavily used in Europe where Allura Red is discouraged or banned. High doses associated with cancer, impaired liver function, body weight changes in animals. Considered safe in low doses. May interfere with white blood cells, may cause hyperactivity in children, associated with negative effects in asthmatic patients. Found in: candied fruit, processed meat, red pistachios, cake-decorating gels, chewing gum.

Other names: FD&C Red No. 3, E127, Food Red 14, C.I. Acid Red 51, C.I. 45430

RED-4

Allura Red is a synthetic, orange-red azo dye derived from petroleum. Most commonly used red dye in the US, discouraged from use in EU, banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland. Considered safe in low doses, animal studies of high doses showed no significant effects. In combination with benzoates (common preservatives), may cause hyperactivity in children. Contains human carcinogen benzidene. Found in: soft drinks, fruit juices, frozen desserts, processed seafood, candies, fruit fillings.

Other names: FD&C Red 40, E129, Allura Red, Food Red 17, C.I. 16035

CITRUS-RED-2

Citrus Red is a synthetic orange-yellow dye. Permitted with restrictions in the US. Used only to colour the rind of non-organic Florida oranges that haven’t developed a rich enough colour, usually early in the harvest season. In mice, increased mortality and liver damage was seen within weeks with a diet containing 0.1% Citrus Red. In mice injected with the dye, tumors appeared more often and were more severe compared to controls. Classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans by the International Association for Research on Cancer.

Other names: Citrus Red No. 2, , E121, C.I. Solvent Red 80, C.I. 12156

ORANGE-1

Orange 1 is a synthetic orange dye derived from coal tar. It was one of the original seven dyes approved for use in the US in 1906. It was banned in 1956, after extensive use in candies and popcorn, following reports of children becoming ill. Studies in adults found that eating twelve hard candies at the time was sufficient to cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms; studies in animals showed effects ranging from weight loss to death. This event, which occurred in 1950, was the first to prompt the FDA to reinvestigate the safety of their approved dyes. No longer in use.

Other names: FD&C Orange No. 1, Acid Orange 20, Orange I