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New Smartphone App iTube Detects Allergens in Food

When it comes to things like allergies, sometimes we’re not as concerned about them as we probably should be; especially when it comes to allergens that are in various kinds of foods. Although certain food allergies can be obvious to detect (such as a lot of people’s allergic reactions to foods like nuts or shellfish), the reality is that sometimes people don’t discover that they are highly allergic to one particular food until they have already digested it and sometimes, based on their body’s reaction, that can be too late.

Being that close to 20 percent of Americans has some kind of an allergy and reportedly 75 percent of all people have some kind of a food allergy, it’s a really good thing (and potential lifesaver) that smartphone is preparing to release an app that will actually detect allergens in food.

That’s right. Thanks to a man by the name of Aydogan Ozcan and his team of researchers, the app known as iTube will soon be available to the mass public. How the app works is that the new device is constructed in such a way that it turns smartphones into colorimeters that will be able to automatically detect allergens, such as nuts, in your food whether you’re dining at home or eating out at a restaurant or friend’s home.

Fatman iTube Red-i

Fatman iTube Red-i (Photo credit: hlehto)

What the app does is quantify the amount of the allergen that is found in a food. Then users of the app can upload the findings onto either their personal site or a public server. The iTube then produces results of the measure of the allergen that can be saved on an online database that can be kept for private record or shared with others.

Although the iTube is currently in the prototype stage, Ozcan’s startup company, Holomic, has plans to attempt to sell the app “boutique style” as they wait and see how the marketplace ultimately responds to it. One concern that they do have is that in this “instant gratification society”, iTube could cause a bit of impatience on people’s part because it does require a few steps of effort to be followed in order for it to thoroughly work.

First, you have to grind up the food that you want tested, then you have to put it into a test tube, mix in a certain batch of chemicals and follow the instructions that are on the iTube app. Then the test tube goes into an iTube attachment, while using its LED lights and your smartphone’s camera to analyze the combination of the food and the chemicals mixed together. On average, the entire process is expected to take somewhere around about 20 minutes.
Yet, if it will save a life, a trip to the emergency room or even just a night of extreme discomfort, we’re pretty certain that a lot of people will find it to be well worth their while.

Just think: In a few months, you may be able to go to a new restaurant or order online via a takeout place like Just Eat.ie and not have to put too much worry into what you’re ordering because you’ll be able to “test it out” (literally) for yourself. Now that’s good eating and again, so worth the wait.