Smartphone cameras may soon monitor health, food quality

Smartphone cameras may soon monitor health, food quality

Scientists are looking at converting smartphone cameras into an optical sensor which can sense food quality.

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VTT creates the world’s first hyperspectral camera for the iPhone. (Image: Timo Kauppila/ VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland )

Scientists have created the world’s first hyperspectral mobile device by converting a smartphone camera into an optical sensor which can sense food quality or monitor health.  Hyperspectral cameras, which are traditionally expensive, have been used for demanding medical and industrial, space and environmental sensing.

The cost-effective optical Micro Opto Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) spectral technology enables the development of new mobile applications for environmental sensing and observation from vehicles and drones, said researchers from VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland.

Other applications include health monitoring and food analysis. All of this forms part of an environment combining smart sensors with the Internet. “Consumer benefits could appear in health applications, such as mobile phones that are able to check whether moles are, malignant or food is edible,” said Anna Rissanen from VTT.

“They could also verify product authenticity or identify users based on biometric data. On the other hand, driverless cars could sense and identify environmental features based on the representation of the full optical spectrum at each point of an image,” said Rissanen.

Optical spectral imaging offers a versatile way of sensing various objects and analysing material properties. Hyperspectral imaging provides access to the optical spectrum at each point of an image, enabling a wide range of measurements.

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The adjustable tiny MEMS filter is integrated with the camera lens and its adjustment is synchronised with the camera’s image capture system. “Today’s smart devices provide huge opportunities for the processing of image data and various cloud services based on spectral data,” said Rissanen.


Mass-produced sensor technology will enable the introduction of hyperspectral imaging in a range of devices in which low-cost camera sensors are currently used,” Rissanen added.