The New Scanner Module

Dear Contributors:

We are proud to announce that we have reached a big milestone!
Our beta scanner has now been scaled down to a size which is approximate to the scale we originally intended. In the photo below you can see the two versions side-by-side; the prototype scanner, and the new much smaller scanner.


As seen above, the new scanner module is less than half the size of the beta prototype device and is therefore much more portable. We are very excited about the fact that we have a much smaller device without compromising its wavelength, range, or accuracy.
We have engaged our industrial designers so that we can get the casing ready for this new device. We have considered several options, and the past few days we have been brainstorming over how best to enclose the new scanner so that it is comfortable for both right handed and left handed people.

All of these developments are amazing and we wanted to share them with you.
Over the past weeks we meet with several beta testers and developers to get their feedback about our apps. Specifically, to get feedback on the user interface, on the functionality, and to better understand their needs.
The feedback we have received so far has been phenomenal, and we’re really glad that everyone is so supportive of our cause. Tellspec is an open house to any of our backers who have contributed to our project, and if you would like to visit us please email
All of the contributors that we have met, and our staff, agree that the new smaller sensor will really help spread the use of the product and is the right choice for us to follow – even if it means waiting slightly longer. The new sensor works better, will last longer, and is far more robust than the initial prototype versions.

As a final point – in our last update we mentioned the launch of Tellspecopedia iOS App for March. We’ve include a video below to update you on our progress in preparing it for launch. The iOS app version is close to being ready and will be delivered to all contributers. More on this soon.

Thank you again for your support!

– Tellspec Team

Updates on Software, Hardware and App

Hello Indiegogoers and supporter of Tellspec!

You may have also seen us at several live events such as CES in Vegas, the Food Innovation Summit in Brussels, and TEDxZwolle in Holland, where we have been demoing our working beta scanners.

We are moving forward, and wanted to let you know the latest on key fronts:

1. Hardware: We are currently working on finalizing agreements with key manufacturers so that we can get beta scanners produced and shipped out to our testers, developers, and contributors.

2. Hardware: We have started the process of minaturising our beta scanners for the final market version; we hope to be able show a new prototype unit by next month. You can see the current size and functionality of the beta prototype in some of our recent videos and interviews, such as during our interview with WebMD at CES .

3. Software: We are also almost ready with a data collection application for beta release. This application will help us collect scans from beta testers, and we aim to make it available at the same time as when we begin shipping beta TellSpec devices.

4. Software: We have recently integrated a large nutritional database, and are developing an application based on this database that will allow end users to track their intake and to generate reports.

5. App: We will be launching Tellspecopedia as its own app independent of the scanner, and hope to give you all free access to this app when it launches by mid/end of March as a token of gratitude for our support.


Here is quick video that demos of our beta scanners functionality.

Following in-person feedback from several of our contributors at CES, we are also now exploring the ways in which we can produce more content about the development and production process to give everyone a greater insight into our latest progress. So stay tuned!
Thank you for all your continued support.

Tellspec Team

CES 2015 Event


Hi everyone,

Tellspec will be at CES 2015 next week. Our booth is 73328 located in the Tech West Health area @SandsExpo.

Also, Isabel Hoffmann will giving a talk @CES at the Digital Health Summit in the afternoon of January 7th, 2015.

Come and visit us there!

Tellspec Team

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 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

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

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


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 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 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


Will Tellspec Help Change the Food Industry?

Will TellSpec Help Change the Food Industry?

In the video below, Health Coach Maria Marlowe explains how it might disrupt the status quo in the food industry. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition is the largest nutrition school in the world.