Thursday, 7 August 2014

Vintage Thursdays 6

It's time to have a little chuckle at our own expense.  I am not sure if these pictures are truly "vintage" or if they were just drawn to have that look.  Either way, I thought they were amusing and would not hesitate to put them on my fridge in the form of magnets.

Feel free to snicker or groan ...

Friday, 1 August 2014

Food Friday ... Calorie Counting Goes Digital

My blog posts are my weekly TOPS meeting discussion topics … it allows those members not able to make the meeting to keep up.  It is also available for interested people to, hopefully, get a little inspiration in their own weight loss efforts or find discussion topics for their own weight loss groups.  (That’s the goal in my land of rainbows and unicorns)

Earlier this week I did our meeting, and posted it is a blog, about Journalling. (
One of the pictures I used in the blog raised quite a few eyebrows during our TOPS meeting and, honestly, I just used the picture because it was an interesting illustration about how tech-savvy people can do on line (and alternative types) of journalling.  It led to such a lively discussion and so much interest in the product I had to do a little more research to find out more about it.

It’s called the Tellspec Scanner and although pictures of the device are all over the Internet I understand it is not yet available at the retail level.  The inventors are looking for crowd-sourcing at .

The description (directly from the website) is as follows:

“Today there are wearable trackers available for just about every move you make and step you take. Almost. If there's a missing link, it's the ability to track all the food that enters a person's mouth. Dieters are stuck tediously logging their eating habits.

TellSpec, a device that's quickly raising money on Indiegogo, claims to be that missing link and more. With a wave of the hand, the device can reportedly calculate all the calories, ingredients, chemicals, and allergens in any given piece of food.

Developed by entrepreneur Isabel Hoffman and York University math professor Stephen Watson, TellSpec is a raman spectrometer (the same kind of technology used in Jack Andraka's $15 cancer-detecting device) that uses an algorithm to calculate what's in your food.

Hoffman first came up with the idea because of her young daughter, who experienced mysterious physical symptoms that were caused by allergens. While eating dinner one evening with Watson, she picked up a flash drive and explained her vision: "Imagine a device the size of a flash drive that could scan food, scan the air, and tell me what kind of pollution I encountered today." Watson told her that he didn't think the technology existed.

Raman spectrometers, which essentially shoot lasers at objects and evaluate their chemical composition, used to be big, bulky instruments that sat in laboratories. These days, it's entirely possible to make a handheld version. Hoffman's question was whether it could do what she was looking for.

In sum, the laser scans food and measures the light that's reflected back. That information is sent to a smartphone app that uses TellSpec's algorithms to measure the qualities of what's in the food. Hoffman says it takes about 30 seconds on average to get a reading, though some dark foods take longer.

As with all wish fulfillment products (this one is for the health nuts), there are plenty of caveats with TellSpec. That 3-D printed device seen in the video? It doesn't actually exist yet. The food analysis engine has been tested with three different kinds of spectrometers, but Hoffman and Watson have yet to make a prototype of the product they plan on selling.

While the analysis engine is complete, TellSpec also hasn't yet built a database of food and toxins. That's partially what the Indiegogo money is for, according to Hoffman.

The pair is currently in discussions with optical companies who might want to manufacture the TellSpec. Hoffman, meanwhile, stresses that their real innovation is the analysis engine. "As soon as we finish the campaign, we will be devoted to miniaturizing the spectrometer and making the price of the final prototype slightly cheaper," she says.

Another caveat: Anyone with serious allergies can't rely on the TellSpec for accuracy. Say you want to scan a dense piece of dark chocolate that contains a single nut fragment. The TellSpec won't be able to find the fragment unless you cut the chocolate open, making the nut easier to find.

Hoffman is hopeful that the TellSpec engine will learn from the crowd. In other words, if another TellSpec user previously scanned the same chocolate and found the nut, the engine should be able to predict that the nut is there. She also has visions of the TellSpec engine integrating with all sorts of other devices--maybe Google Glass, smartphones, or a separate fitness tracker.

Another startup, Airo, just announced its plans to build a spectroscopic wristband that can measure food consumption, heart rate, sleep, and exercise. Airo, however, also has no working app, let alone a working prototype.

We can't judge whether TellSpec is the real thing until it's in the hands of scientists, researchers, and the general public. For now, backers have to rely on trust--and considering the fact that TellSpec has raised nearly $100,000 at the time of writing, with 19 days left in its campaign, plenty of people have no problem doing that.

TellSpec is offering backers the device and two years of unlimited food scan analysis for $150.”

There is also a very informative video: