It looks like Consumer Physics may have some competition.
At IFA last week, Bosch showed off a food and stain scanner concept called the X-Spect. Bosch’s Dr. Arndt von Bieren told CNET the technology is similar to that of Consumer Physics’ SCiO in that it scans food and can determine their molecular makeup. One major difference with the SCiO, however, is that the processing and algorithmic “secret sauce” happens in the cloud.
The X-Spect marks the first time a big consumer appliance brand has publicly announced a molecular spectrometer project. In a way, Bosch’s announcement validates Consumer Physics’ strategy, who told The Spoon in July that they were working with appliance makers to integrate their technology into their kitchen lineups to enable instant food scanning. With Bosch’s announcement, it’s clear that the startup may face competition from appliance makers themselves.
The X-Spect’s cloud-based processing and integrated connectivity are interesting for a couple of reasons. One is that it makes it easier for information to be sent to Bosch’s connected appliances. Bosch, like other appliance brands, has been busy the last couple years adding Wi-Fi and more processing power to their products. By allowing the X-Spect to talk to these devices, appliances will be able to leverage the results from the X-Spect without the full integration of the scanner into the appliance itself, which could mean faster time to market.
Secondly, cloud processing could also be a way to sidestep some of the intellectual property in this space established by Consumer Physics and others. As reported by the Spoon back in July, the Israel startup has been issued a number of patents in the area of infrared spectrometry and food scanning. This means their IP portfolio was established well before the X-Spect, a project which Bosch’s Von Bieren said originated five months ago. And of course, Bosch is a company with a well-established research apparatus, so it could be the technology behind the X-Spect utilizes some of the company’s own previously established IP.
I’m personally excited to see a major appliance maker throw their hat in the “food sensing” ring. Over time, our appliances will increasingly have “digital senses” that can tell us how fresh our food is, detect for allergens and caloric/nutritional makeup. We already have instant gluten sensors from the likes of Nima, and there is a company in France that is creating what is essentially a “digital nose” to smell food for us. With the X-Spect, it looks like appliance makers are interested in adding “digital senses” as a feature to our appliances.
Don’t miss the Wall Street Journal’s Wilson Rothman discussing digital sensing tech with Consumer Physics CEO Dror Sharon and others at the Smart Kitchen Summit.