This portable scanner of the future can tell if your food has gone bad

The Bosch X-Spect can also tell your washing machine how to remove stains

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If you’ve ever wondered how that stain got on your shirt or how long those eggs have been in the fridge, a new gadget might be able to help.

It’s called the Bosch X-Spect, and it’s a little wand that can scan foods, stains, and fabrics. Then, it offers advice on what to do with them.

“The goal behind it is that it helps users with everyday decisions,” said Dr. Arndt von Bieren, head of sensor and food technologies at BSH, the corporate parent of appliance manufacturer Bosch.

Bosch X-Spect Scanner on a stain
Credit: Reviewed.com / Keith Barry
The X-Spect can determine what kind of stain is on a shirt.

Equipped with two optical sensors, it sends the data it collects to a cloud database that can determine the blend of a fabric, the fat content of a piece of meat, or the source of a stain.

We got a chance to see the X-Spect in action. It could tell a lipstick stain from a red wine stain, it knew that my suit jacket was 100 percent wool and my jeans were cotton, and it told us that a peach was still a few days away from peak ripeness.

Some of its features seem a bit gimmicky—for instance, you can look up the calorie content of raw food online in less time than it takes for X-Spect to scan a walnut, access its database, and display the results on its small screen.

But von Bieren envisions the scanner as a vital connection between human and machine. Paired with a smart washing machine, it can tell you which clothes are safe to wash together, and create a custom drying cycle that will minimize clothes wear.

Bosch X-Spect Scanner on fabric
Credit: Reviewed.com / Keith Barry
If you're worried about damaging fabric, the X-Spect can tell a smart washer and dryer how to care for it.

Similarly, by determining the composition and water content of a cut of meat, X-Spect could automatically adjust a recipe for maximum flavor in a way that the most well-trained chef could not.

While it’s solely in the concept stage, von Bieren assured us that the X-Spect we used was, indeed, a working prototype.

“It’s not a fake. The cloud back-end works,” he said, although he couldn’t offer any clues as to when it might go on sale or how much it might cost.

Although similar scanners exist, von Bieren said that Bosch is developing the X-Spect entirely in house. The next steps include beefing up the database with more information about fabrics and foods, and determining other potential use cases.

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