Consumers will soon be able to use their smartphones to analyse the nutritional content, ingredients and freshness of their food, thanks to developments in broadband near-infrared LEDs (NIREDs) and mobile spectroscopy.
Wearable technology and smart mobile devices are already helping people to monitor their vital signs, and the next step is to help health conscious consumers to analyse the ingredients of their food.
Osram Opto Semiconductors, which claims to be the only company offering such NIREDs said the technology enables consumers to measure nutrients, calorie content and freshness in foods with their mobile phones or handheld devices that already measure heart rates and pulse oximetry.
Near-infrared spectroscopy based on LED technology uses the different wavelengths that molecular compounds absorb light to measure the water, fat, carbohydrate, sugar or protein content of food. This data provides an indication of freshness, quality or calorie content.
Up to now, infrared spectroscopic analysis has been limited to scientific use by chemist and physics laboratories. But the progress towards miniaturisation now enables the integration of NIREDs into space-critical applications such as mobile phones.
The company has created a new generation of embeddable NIREDs, including the Oslon Black Flat SFH 4735, Oslon Black SFH 4736 and Synios SFH 4776 that increases the light intensity, making the analysis process easier.
After taking the sample, the device connects to a knowledge database via cloud technology to compare the data with material and reference specifications for the analysis.
The first devices using the new NIRED technology have already been launched to the consumer sector.
“Near-infrared spectroscopy is only at its beginning, opening more new application fields for both the consumer and professional use,” the company said.
“In the professional sector for example, near-infrared spectroscopy can help to implement smart farming solutions. Farmers can determine the right timing for the harvest by simply scanning fruit, vegetables or cereal crops with the NIRED and a spectrometer installed in a smartphone or tablet which will then provide reliable information about the sugar, water, fat and protein content.”