Product Development Spotlight: Neogen AccuPoint®

Hand working with lab samples; generated by Midjourney AI

Neogen is a company that works to improve food and animal safety. Among other things, they manufacture a proprietary chemical reagent that glows in contact with microbial life. Neogen provides this reagent in a sample cartridge that can be wiped across a surface. If the surface is sterile then the cartridge remains inactive. If the surface is contaminated then the cartridge will glow with an intensity that correlates to the density of microbes on that surface. The more microbes, the brighter the glow.

This process is invaluable for environmental monitoring and quantifying the cleanliness of a surface in health care, food preparation, and even public transportation.

Neogen Test Capsules
Neogen Test Capsules

Finding the Light

For many years, Neogen offered a handheld device, AccuPoint®, to measure the very low levels of light given off by the fluorescent reaction, but the device was plagued by reliability problems. Many devices spent more time being repaired and recalibrated than actually used. Furthermore, the device was over 12 years old and lacked many of the data and connectivity features that we now take for granted.

Neogen came to Porticos for help redesigning the AccuPoint, with a number of challenges.

First, the light given off by the chemical reaction is meager, as low as 2 picowatts of total light output. In order to measure it reliably, the product needed careful selection of a light-sensing technology appropriate to the application. The tool also required a very dark environment, so a “light-proof” chamber within the instrument would need to be provided.

Secondly, in order to ensure reliable measurement, each device would require an automated factory calibration to account for tiny variations in the behavior of light-sensing components. This priority ended up driving the entire engineering architecture.

The updated device would also need to be able to adjust for environmental variations, such as ambient temperature, when in use. The device would require a solution for allowing recurrent calibration that could be performed, reliably, by a user without access to special tools or instruments.

Digging into the Details

Neogen defined performance expectations for precision, accuracy, and stability. The required performance was to be demonstrated with their existing “Test Samples” which are electronic replacements for the chemical cartridges. The “Test Samples” are supposed to emit the representative wavelength of light with almost perfect repeatability.

Unfortunately, Porticos was able to show that the Test Samples themselves were notoriously unreliable. Light output varied between samples with temperature variations and even by orientation. When all of those things were held constant, there was still significant variability between one test and the next.

In light of this finding, Porticos stepped up, performing a deep dive into the basic science of optical metrology. This undertaking led to the development of new, better Test Samples that could be used to evaluate the performance of the handheld device.

Concurrent with the study of optical metrology, Porticos was developing new variants of the AccuPoint Next Generation, including an improved aesthetic and ergonomic design, device software, and power supply. Communication protocols for the new device were defined in cooperation with another firm already updating Windows-based software for analyzing the collected data.

Neogen Case Study Sketch
Neogen Case Study Sketch

The Next Generation of AccuPoint®

Neogen successfully launched the new AccuPoint® in 2021, and demand has outpaced supply ever since. 

Neogen has retained Porticos to redesign several subsystems of the AccuPoint to replace unavailable or End-Of-Life components. The Global Component Shortages that developed in 2020 have impacted Neogen, requiring some complete redesigns of subsystems (e.g., WiFi) and related firmware architecture.

AccuPoint Advanced Features
AccuPoint Advanced Features

In parallel with the component-driven work, Neogen has continued to rely on Porticos for ongoing support including:

  • User-facing enhancements to firmware,
  • Manufacturing in ever-higher volumes,
  • Support of internal engineering,
  • Additional features to the embedded software, such as additional languages and expanded database functionality,
  • “Help Desk” to support the Neogen supply chain, including fabricators and contract manufacturers.

The collaboration with Neogen has been among the most rewarding and long-lasting in the Porticos portfolio. We look forward to many more years of partnership!

XL200P Exploded View

About Porticos


Porticos, Inc. is a Product Engineering and New Product Development firm located in Research Triangle Park, NC.

Established in 2003, Porticos produces innovative and effective solutions for their clients and the markets they serve. Porticos provides broad expertise in development, planning, and production. 

Contact us for more information or support bringing your idea to market.