When we go out to the market to buy some fruits, vegetables, meat or other fresh produce, the only thing that sometimes confuses us is the freshness of fruits and vegetables. We try to pick them based on color, looks and by smelling them. But sometimes even after picking the best one, it might be rotten from inside. Thankfully, that’s where researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IMPS) in Dresden can help us test the quality of the food before buying it.

Customers will soon be able to test for themselves whether a pineapple is already ripe or a steak at the meat counter is still fresh enough to be tender and not tough when it lands in the frying pan at home.

research So how does this work? There’s a special spectrometer that can be easily installed in the smartphone, as it is a very compact device – no larger than a sugar cube. Once installed, you only need to hold the smartphone next to the product, select the appropriate app or menu option – for example “pears” and the device will then analyze the raw food and present it’s information.

If the fructose content of the pear is high, it gives the purchase a green light. According to researchers, this technology is based on a near-infrared spectrometer that radiates broadband light, which makes it possible to measure the proportion of water, sugar, starch, fat and proteins in different foods.

The best part is that the device still functions even if the food is packed in a thin wrapping foil. This device could go on the market in roughly three to five years. Now, the only question that remains is  will  smartphone manufacturers integrate this device in their phones?

This sure seems to be a viable (and possibly viral) product, but we’re not sure if this project will actually see the light of the day, or if it’s just a “raw” idea.