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.
Since our last update, we’ve been working very hard to develop our TellSpec food scanner with the Texas Instruments DLP chipset. We have engaged optical specialists to miniaturize the optical design for the DLP chip-set, and retained design houses to develop for mechanical and electrical design to be integrated with the DLP optical design. Meanwhile we have been strengthening our algorithms with further strategies, and started porting our software to address scalability. In addition, we have been collecting more food data for the TellSpec food databank.
We’ve made meaningful progress on a number of fronts and have added significant human resources including a VP of Software, two machine learning specialists, and a quantitative analyst and developer, as well as several food testers to our team.
Unfortunately, miniaturization using TI DLP chipset has been more difficult than expected. So we are currently finalizing a feasibility study to give us answers on whether it is possible to use the current DLP technology and deliver a size that is acceptable to the consumer. We want everyone to understand that TellSpec is still very committed to the TI’s DLP technology.
As a result, we have made alternative arrangements to work with a global leader in optical sensing technologies to concurrently develop the beta and developer versions of TellSpec’s food scanners. This alternative does not use DLP technology but it will also be an NIR spectrometer with the same 900-1700 nm wavelengths. This alternative technology, which will be delivered to ONLY beta testers and developers, will still run our food analysis algorithms but these units may be a larger size than previously expected. Although the beta and developer versions are not using DLP technology, we are still very committed to delivering to end users the DLP technology in our future version, pending, of course, the results of current feasibility study.
With this in mind, TellSpec’s goal is to be similar to Microsoft’s open operating system where our food analysis algorithm will be easily used with data collected by any NIR spectrometer hardware with the same wavelength. We welcome groups to discuss with us how to license our food analysis engine.
If you are the select group of special customers who Pre-Ordered our scanners; we will start to ship the first sets of TellSpec scanners by the end of the 1st Quarter in 2015. Other consumers wanting to pre-order a scanner will have to wait until later this year to be able to so. No additional Pre-Orders are being processed until later this year.
Thank you for continuing to motivate and inspire us. We also want to thank Texas Instruments for collaborating with us very closely and continuing to support our clean food mission.
Isabel Hoffman, Founder and CEO of TellSpec, Inc.
Dear Supporters and Friends,
The TellSpec™ headquarters are buzzing with excitement! As you know, we are now collaborating with Texas Instruments to incorporate their award-winning DLP® technology into the TellSpec food scanner. We are currently hard at work to produce beta units for our Indiegogo Beta Testers and Developer Contributors. We expect to start delivery of these scanners in late Q2 2014. The TellSpec scanner will use micromirrors and a broadband lamp rather than a laser, ultimately bringing a safer, more accurate and faster technology to consumers.
Our Beta Testers and Developer Contributors will play a crucial role in helping to build the TellSpec global food database. These backers will be some of the first to own the device and are key supporters to making this powerful tool available to the public.
With the beta units, the testers will be able to scan simple foods (like fruits, vegetables, crackers, breads, chocolate, eggs, meat and potato chips) and receive data about the calories, macronutrients, ingredients, and allergens in that particular item of food. This summer, we will have a live video demonstrating a beta unit in action, along with instructions on how to use the scanner to help grow the global TellSpec food database.
Thanks to the data collected by beta testers; we anticipate that the final model to be able to scan simple mixed foods such as cakes and pizzas. The final model is expected to be delivered to all backers including the ones that have pre-bought the scanner on our website by the end of the year. Every time beta testers scan, they not only learn about what’s in their food, but they also grow the global TellSpec database. TellSpec’s commitment to building a healthier world by empowering people to make informed choices grows with every scan. That is crowd-sourced power for consumers. And this is only the beginning. Details on how we will accomplish this are outlined in our patent filed August 13, 2013.
Crowd-funding enabled our team to receive immediate feedback from our backers and the public, which led us to make strategic choices with our product and further expand our vision. It was this very same feedback that led us to switch from Raman laser technology to the safer NIR spectroscopy technology. We listened to you, our backers, and your concerns about the safety of the laser used in Raman. We chose the NIR spectral measurement technology as the alternative to Raman because it is used extensively in the industry for food analysis and has a proven track record for food applications since the 1980s. We also received a lot of feedback about tracking daily goals and providing nutritional advice; both of which are features that we will now include in our beta version of our smartphone application.
We strongly believe responding to consumer feedback to develop the best product for our backers is a key part of the crowd-funding experience. This allows our backers to remain an integral part of our project that aims to build a healthier world by empowering people to make informed choices about the food they eat. This is truly a project for the people, grown by people, and made stronger and better by people.
To our Beta Testers and Developer Contributors:
Please note that the look and feel of the beta unit you will receive is different than the final version we will send to you at the end of the year. This is because we are still working on fine-tuning the technology to be small enough to fit into the palm-sized scanners like the prototypes on our page. It’s not as sexy as the final version you will receive at the end of the year but it is ready for its first assignment! And, it will have the ability to receive data about the calories, macronutrients, ingredients, allergens in simple food.
Our VP of Hardware Engineering, Dr. John Coates, a world recognized expert spectroscopy, is busy working to integrate new hardware features into the TellSpec scanner so the price will be kept low. John is currently working with a design group we have engaged, to deliver the TellSpec scanner within the expected price point.
Lastly, as an integral part of TellSpec’s success, we want to keep you abreast of our progress and share how we are using the money we’ve raised as a community. Since our funding in November, we have recruited further talent, begun set up our distribution chains, invested in further R&D, paid for hardware partners for a first run of production, and are developing directives for beta testers along with the beta prototype scanners.
Changing the way people access information about their food will not be an easy task, but thanks to your backing, the action you take will help build the global TellSpec food database. Furthermore; it is your support of this disruptive technology that will help us succeed in revolutionizing what we know about what’s in our food. We thank you for your continued support, loyalty, and understanding.
Wishing you the best in health and peace always,
Have questions? Email us at email@example.com.
Founder and CEO
Nutritional science is rapidly advancing — leaving government regulations to catch up with progression in understanding. Recent revision of the long-standing Nutritional Facts in the black and white box on packaged foods supports the on-going movement to update the population with the latest discoveries in nutrition. Proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts reflect an update in serving size requirements. Additional changes include a shift in emphasis towards added sugars and global food calories – aiding consumers in making informed food decisions and maintaining a healthy diet. In line with current values towards moderation of sodium consumption, recommended sodium intakes are cut back. Potassium and Vitamin D see a required addition to the label – acknowledging their role in an optimal consumer diet.
Unfortunately, even with these updates to the Nutrition Facts, there is still no practical way (or the manufacturer incentive) to display information regarding potential ingredient health concerns on food packages themselves. While Nutritional Facts emphasize numeric references to the ideal intake of fats, sugars, and other items, it is incredibly important for consumers to understand the adverse health effects potentially present in the foods they consume. TellSpec’s revolutionary new product bridges this knowledge gap by placing the scientific power of spectroscopy within the consumer’s own hands. Simply by scanning your food, you instantly receive up to date nutritional and educational data regarding a product’s ingredients. Information displays on your smart phone or other linked device in a concise and easily approachable summary. Consumers curious for additional information can also access TellSpec’s proprietary TellSpecopedia – an essential and expansive online database of product ingredients with facts on what each ingredient means to you and your family. By using the TellSpec data alongside Nutritional Facts, TellSpec empowers you with the ability to make optimal food choices – positively benefiting your long term health.
Proposed Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label. February 27, 2014. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from: here.
I have included below an invite to become an early participant in our Indiegogo crowdfunding health technology campaign, but first I want to introduce myself.
I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 20 years, building eight companies on three continents. Most recently I had been working in the field of preventive medicine, until my daughter became ill. I made it my mission to identify the cause of her mysterious illness and help her get better.
After a year of exploring every possibility with many specialists, we finally discovered that she is very sensitive to gluten and other allergens. The world is slowly shifting towards better food labeling and more choices, but gluten is still prevalent in many foods, often without identification. It was very hard to find foods that would not contribute to my daughter’s illness. I began searching for a product to help me manage her food intake and, from this experience, TellSpec was born.
TellSpec is the world’s first hand-held consumer device that analyzes the nutrients, calories, chemicals and allergens in food products. What exactly are you eating? Do you know? TellSpec can analyze any food, you just aim the handheld scanner at the food, and TellSpec sends a report to your phone. TellSpec is a fast, convenient and simple way to learn what’s in your food.
We are sharing this news with leading doctors, scientists, nutritionists and early-adopters to offer you an opportunity to help bring this breakthrough in health technology to market. By becoming an early contributor in our crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, you can be one of the first to own the device and play an important role in making this powerful tool available to the public; empowering people to make smart choices before they eat.
Please read about our different crowdfunding campaign options on Indiegogo; and if you believe, as we do, that TellSpec will have a positive impact on health, please consider making a contribution.
Thank you for your interest in TellSpec. I hope you will join us in being part of the clean food revolution with inventions such as TellSpec.
Founder and CEO