When apple vendors say that their products are organic, one would normally cast doubt as no one really knows if the fruit has been sprayed with pesticides. But there’s now a new smartphone app that is perfect for the situation: the HawSpex mobile app can scan look inside objects.
Developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF in Magdeburg, many of our unverifiable information can now be easily tested using this app.
It is fairly easy to use: just take out your smartphone, open the app, aim it at the object being scanned, and get the desired information.
Some would say that such scanning systems already exist in the industry, but this one is perhaps the best one yet because it does not need any clamping of additional parts such as a prism for the camera to effectively do the scanning. It’s all just the smartphone camera.
Prof. Udo Seiffert, Expert Group Manager at the Fraunhofer IFF, says, “What makes our app special is that users don’t need anything for a scan other than the camera already integrated in their smartphones.”
So what is their secret? It’s actually simple: a mathematical model that extracts just about any information on an object, which is its constituents, from its spectral fingerprint.
“Since hyperspectral cameras aren’t integrated in smartphones, we simply reversed this principle,” Seiffert explains. “The camera gives us a broadband three-channel sensor, that is, one that scans every wavelength and illuminates an object with different colored light.”
If that isn’t clear just yet, the HawSpex mobile app is embedded with an intelligent analysis algorithm that translates through the camera, which allows the display successively illuminates the object with a series of different colors for fractions of a second.
In short, if the display casts only red light on the object, the object can only reflect red light – and the camera can only measure red light. That’s how this app is going to detect the pesticide from supposed-to-be organic apples.
Hopefully going to debut by the end of 2017, this app has already reached a successful lab version. But it might take a while before it gets to the public, as it is now being taught with reference scans.
But this may no longer be necessary in each scan as some problem may only require measurement of different distributions of substances or materials instead of specifying individual constituents.
Thus, the app is not only limited to buying apples, but cars as well, among others. It can be used to detect if parts of any secondhand vehicles have been repainted.
Furthermore, the researchers target that this app adopts adding of application of the users, pretty much like the famous online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
“Once the app is launched on the market by the end of this year, active users will be able to contribute to the whole big thing and create new applications, for instance, that test pesticide exposure of heads of lettuce, by teaching the system such problems,” says Seiffert.