ColorSensing, a new spin-off of the UB that provides information about the quality of packaged foods without opening them

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), every year 1,300 tons of food are wasted worldwide, which is equivalent to 30% of the total production. Part of this waste is caused by the distribution chain, when, in order to check that the containers leave the factory in good condition, a random check is made by perforating them to measure that the gases inside the package are as they should be. These analysed containers become unusable and have to be thrown away. But that was until now. ColorSensing, a new spin-off of the University of Barcelona, has developed a technology that allows us to know the quality of packaged food without opening it.

ColorSensing technology provides objective criteria for measuring the quality and freshness of packaged foods by means of a smart package. Using a QR code and image reading and processing software, this technology allows non-invasive measurement of parameters inside the package, such as gases, temperature, pH, and humidity, among others. Thanks to this technology, the consumer is protected, waste is reduced, and the quality of the food is assured during its transport from the factory to the supermarket.

This technology resulted from a research project led by Dr. Daniel Prades, from the Department of Electronic and Biomedical Engineering of the Faculty of Physics of the University of Barcelona, who is currently the strategy executive director of the spin-off. María Eugenia Martín is the executive director, and Peter Pfeiffer and Ismael Benito are the chemical and electronic engineers, respectively. In turn, the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation has assisted these researchers in setting up the company.

In addition to the application to packaged foods, this technology has other uses ranging from the digitization of any type of colorimetric sensor to colour standardization in digital images. For example, the team is already working in obtaining reliable colour images in the field of dermatology, in particular, and telemedicine in general. Thanks to this application, the team has recently managed to participate in the CaixaImpulse Programme.

At the moment the short term objective is to validate this technology through some of the applications in which the spin-off is working. “With this validation we intend to obtain a capital injection that will allow us to continue developing the rest of the applications in our pipeline and to keep looking for companies interested in licensing the technology,” explains María Eugenia Martín, who adds, “We are defining the funding strategy. We want to look for partners who, in addition to capital, can add value to the project.”

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