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Testing for allergies. Many people are allergic to chemical agents often contained in cosmetics.

Nowadays a large group of people suffers from allergies. Many substances contained in cosmetic products (e.g., shampoos, body lotions, sun blockers, etc.) can lead to allergic reactions for certain individuals. Such reactions are often associated with a decreasing quality of life for those affected.

Though, all ingredients are printed on the product itself it is difficult for many consumers to identify the substances which might cause allergic reactions. Additionally, some names of the ingredients are ambiguous i.e., the names of active agents are similar to each other. The meaning and the consequences are difficult to assess for laymen and could lead to misinterpretation and wrong decisions.


An example for a typical drug store product. The list of ingredients is written in small font.

Moreover, the list of ingredients is often printed in a rather small size. The names of such substances are predominantly expressed in expert language and thus hard to comprehend for most consumers.

Therefore, they have difficulties to assess if some of the ingredients might be harmful for them.

Even if an individual had consulted a dermatologist, had himself/herself tested for allergic reaction to chemical substances and knows about which allergens to avoid it is difficult to transfer this knowledge into daily life. This especially applies when he/she has to make a decision whether to buy a product. Consequently, consumers are exposed to the risk of buying a potentially harmful product which might cause a minor to severe allergic reaction.

For this reason, customers need a solution which empowers them to make informed buying decisions.


What is GlassAllergy?

Today, innovative mobile data and communication solutions are on the verge of entering the market. A  famous example is Google’s project “Google Glass”. It might be the next evolutionary step in terms of mobile/wearable computing. Customers will no longer need their hands to interact with a smart device that enables them to communicate and transfer data in a mobile context.

To make an informed buying decision Google Glass’ built-in camera can be used to scan that EAN barcode of a product of interest, for example a shampoo in a supermarket.

This way a unique product identifier representing a composition for chemical substances is obtained. The identifier can then be sent to a webservice. This service computes whether any of the ingredients of the given product code might be harmful for the customer which originally made the request. To allow for such a solution a customer has to create a profile at this service provider. This profile contains all the chemical agents that could cause him/her serious harm. The list of agents can be entered and edited by him/herself and should be the outcome of allergy tests conducted by a dermatologist.

Using Google Glass to enable people making a better informed buying decision.

As a result of the substance check such a webservice implementation responds to the original request of the mobile device (i.e., Google Glass). The result of the check indicates if there are any contraindications related to the product of interest. If so a visual alert is displayed to the customer. If needed an explanation is presented via a short textual description.

Furthermore, a translation for certain ingredients could be displayed to the customer. Such translations are provided by health related Semantic Networks which are derived from various localizations of Wikipedia. These networks have been used in other medical contexts such as health recommender systems which are part of our current research activities. Hence, a huge resource of synonyms, laymen terms and other helpful information is available for semantic computations.

The benefits of the proposed application lies in prevention of minor to severe allergic reactions. Hence, customers are empowered to make an informed purchase decision based on evidence which originates from their individual allergic profile.


Contact persons

Dipl.-Inform. Med. Monika Pobiruchin

Dipl.-Inform. Med. Martin Wiesner


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Credit lines / Attributions
Allegy skin Testing by Wolfgang Ihloff (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons
Old spice by Covânt (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons