The X-Spect is the latest in the nascent field of food scanners.

By Charlie Heller
Updated August 31, 2017
restaurant food
Credit: Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Hold Bosch's new X-Spect scanner to your food, and you can learn the nutritional content of each bite. At least, that's the promise of the German tech company's latest in prototype kitchen gadgets.

Demoed at Berlin's massive consumer electronics and home appliance trade fair IFA, the X-Spect uses what appears to be molecule scanning technology to analyze everything from ripeness of fruit, to what material scanned clothing is made of. In the latter category, however, a CNET reporter found the current version of these kitchen gadgets wanting, confusing his linen shirt for cotton because of their shared molecular structure.

Bosch representatives didn't specify all the potential uses of the handheld device, but internet connectivity seems to be key. Theoretically, the X-Spect will be able to scan a piece of fabric or stain, analyze the cloth or staining substance, and send instructions to a web-enabled Bosch washing machine for optimal cleaning settings. CNet also speculates the kitchen gadgets could one day be used to run inventory checks by scanning the interior of fridges.

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The X-Spect is the latest in the nascent field of food scanners that could eventually help diners more easily detect allergens in their food. In 2013, Canadian startup Tellspec raised hundreds of thousands of dollars on crowdfunding site Indiegogo for a scanner meant to do just that, but so far, results have been mixed.

The same goes for Dietsensor, which uses a laser-based scanner called the SCiO, but, like the Tellspec, remains limited in scope. Both face the same problem: they can read the surface of foods, which means homogeneous items like chicken or fruit are okay, but as soon as you have multiple ingredients, as in a sandwich, you'll have to take your meal apart and scan each ingredient individually to get a true reading. Should we X-Spect Bosch to finally overcome these limits? Not even our scanners can see over that horizon.