iTube: The Smartphone App That Recognizes Food Allergens


Tired of wondering if there are trace amounts of nuts in just about everything? Now there’s an app that can ease your anaphylactic worries.

Enter iTube, a handy new tool and app that “lets you scan and test your food before you eat it.” Developed by a team of UCLA researchers, the program transforms your smartphone into a makeshift food lab and can detect common allergens like peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, eggs, and, of course, ever-present gluten.

According to our sister paper LA Weekly, the device “uses the iPhone camera to analyze food samples, searching them for allergens. The iTube attaches to the cellphone and uses an app that runs a test with the same high level of sensitivity you would get from a professional laboratory analysis.” In roughly 20 minutes (or the same amount of time it would take your Seamless order to arrive), the app can identify whether or not specific allergens are present in an entire dish.

Here’s how it works: The questionable food is placed in a test tube along with hot water and an “extraction solvent,” before being left to sit for the required time period. After being compared against a few other “testing liquids”, the sample is “measured optically” through the iPhone camera.

UCLA hopes to release the app in 18 months, which should give you enough time to fully develop any waning food intolerances. [LA Weekly]