CSI, Smartphone: Using just a camera, this app conducts a spectral analysis

hawkspex spectral app announced 1484842105115 rn02 2017 iff apprevealsconstituents
Fraunhofer Institute
A CSI-like analysis of everyday objects could be coming to smartphones by the end of 2017. Fraunhofer Institute, a research company based in Germany, announced Thursday HawkSpex Mobile, an app that can conduct a spectral analysis without any accessories.

Traditional spectral analysis cameras use prisms and specialized sensors to read how an object reflects different wavelengths of light. Since different elements reflect light differently, that information gives the camera details on just what that object is made up of — like whether or not an apple has been sprayed with pesticides.

Since smartphone cameras don’t have that prism, apps that can analyze objects require accessories, add-on cameras that are expensive and need to be carried around with the smartphone. Instead, the research group reversed the idea. Rather than using a prism to detect the different wavelengths, the smartphone’s screen emits a particular wavelength at a time, while the camera reads whether or not that wavelength is reflected.

If there is only red light, the camera object can only reflect red light, and whether or not that light is reflected gives the camera clues as to what that object is made up of. When the screen repeats that process at different wavelengths, the camera can analyze the object’s content without needing that built-in prism.

HawkSpex is currently only a laboratory model, but Fraunhofer says that by developing different applications based on the technology, a consumer version could be heading out before the end of the year. The group has to teach the app using reference scans what the reflected light means and program it for specific purposes. For example, to teach the app whether produce has been sprayed with pesticides, the group has to show the program what an apple without pesticides looks like first.

While the app could certainly come in handy in a number of applications, the program would require a different app or mode for each type of scan because it requires those reference scans. That means users would need to tell the app whether they are scanning an apple or a head of lettuce.

The company says the technology has so many different applications that it will launch a sort of Wikipedia-like platform where users can suggest what reference scans the company should use next to release a version of the app for a more specific purpose. While many types of scans require a reference some will not — like comparing two different items. To see if a car has been in an accident, for example, the company says users could scan the paint from one section to see if it matched another section, without needing a pre-programmed reference since the app is only comparing two different scans.

Fraunhofer says the app could be used for more than just checking the accuracy of an organic label — commercially, the app could be used for quality control or to allow farmers to see if their crops need fertilizer.


Updating to Apple’s iOS 12 will make your iPhone a whole lot smarter

iOS 12, the latest version of Apple’s iOS, is officially here. We took it for a spin to check out its new noteworthy features, and if it truly changes our smartphone habits for the better.

Put your iPad Pro to the test with these great games

Did you recently purchase a 10.5-inch iPad Pro, or are you enjoying the 12.9-inch version? If so, we've rounded up a few of the best iPad Pro games currently available on Apple's mobile platform.
Home Theater

Genius gives Apple Music a brainy boost with new lyrics integration

Genius has announced its most in-depth partnership to date with Apple Music, bringing lyrics to the app as well as making it the default player for the Genius mobile app and website.
Home Theater

Free original content is coming to Apple devices, but only if it’s rated PG

New reports say that Apple is planning to bring free original content to the TV app on its devices next year, but don't expect any blood and gore, as the company will only show PG content.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.

OnePlus charges into U.K. carrier stores, leaving online-only start in the past

OnePlus's next phone, the OnePlus 6T, will be more widely available than any OnePlus phone before it, as the company has announced major deals with retailers in the U.K. The device launches on October 30.
Product Review

The all-new Palm wants to be many things, but it’s really just a tiny smartphone

The all-new Palm is here, and it’s tinier than ever. Exclusive to Verizon, it syncs to your primary smartphone and acts as a secondary device -- with features to help you disconnect from technology. But at $350, is it worth the high price…

The Palm has been revived, and it wants to help you limit your smartphone usage

A reboot of the classic Palm is finally here and it's tiny. It syncs to your phone and acts as a secondary device -- with a feature to help you disconnect from technology. At $350, the Palm will be available exclusively through Verizon.

You can finally throw away your PC; Photoshop is coming to the iPad

A full version of Photoshop is coming to the iPad -- and soon, other tablets, as well. Adobe also launched several new features for Photoshop and Lightroom, including a new Content-Aware Fill tool.

The Huawei Mate 20 may come with a massive 40W charger

Huawei is no stranger when it comes to big phones. And this year it plans to go even bigger with the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. Here's what we think we know about the new range.
Home Theater

Dish Network or DirecTV: Which is the better choice for you?

So, you’ve chosen to go with a satellite television provider. Check out our quick rundown of what both Dish Network and DirecTV offer in terms of content, hardware, and pricing, and why you might choose them over streaming services.

Upcoming iPad may lose a few millimeters, along with its headphone jack

The new iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and Apple Watch aren't the last devices we'll see from Apple in 2018. There are plenty of rumors about a new iPad coming this year too, and it may share some design similarities with the new phones.
Product Review

Mediocre battery and a big notch slight Google's otherwise perfect Pixel phone

Google’s Pixel 3 XL has two big flaws: The gigantic notch on the front, and mediocre battery life. That being said, this is the best Android experience you can find in a smartphone today.
Product Review

Google’s Pixel 3 is a hair away from pocket-sized perfection

Google’s Pixel 3 smartphone is the best Android phone you can buy. It doesn’t have the best looks or the best hardware, but you’ll be hard pressed to find better software and unique A.I. functionalities.