Pocket-Sized SCiO Spectrometer Analyzes Chemical Composition Of Anything, Displays It On Your Smartphone

Is that a tricorder in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? While we’ve seen handheld devices that mimic the look and feel of Star Trek Communicators, the handheld SCiO will truly make you feel like a member Dr. McCoy’s medical team.

The SCiO turns science fiction into science fact by shrinking mass spectrometry technology used in traditional lab settings into a device small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. While [pricey] handheld spectrometers have been available for researchers, the SCiO is the first such device marketed directly at consumers after having a successful funding run via Kickstarter.

scanning cheese

To get the SCiO down to a price point that is attractive to consumers, Consumer Physics uses near-IR spectroscopy and optics typically found in smartphones to measure the light reflected from any given object. Held at a distance of 5 to 15 mm from the intended target, SCiO captures reflected spectrum data and uploaded it to its own cloud platform. The company’s proprietary algorithms then analyze the data and send the information back down to your smartphone (SCiO requires a Bluetooth connection to communicate with your smartphone). Consumer Physics says this whole process occurs within 1.5 seconds.

Consumer Physics hopes that SCiO will empower consumers to learn more about the world around them and even about the things that we put in our mouth. You’ll be able to ascertain nutritional information about the foods you eat without having to rely on labels, or even determine the ripeness of fruits and vegetables with the push of a button. Just imagine being able to determine which watermelon is sweetest among the dozens sitting on the table at your local grocery store.

You can also find out the chemical makeup up of medicine (pills), animals, household objects… just about anything you can possibly think of. In the end, SCiO is being poised to help you not only lead a healthier life, but also become a more informed person about the the objects that fill our daily lives.

“Every time you use SCiO you are helping to build a database of knowledge about the stuff around us So when you use SCiO, you are making everyone smarter,” says Consumer Physics. “The bigger our community gets, the more data SCiO will have about different materials and this goes right back to our community of users!”

Scanning an apple

The SCiO is compatible with Android and iOS devices (sorry BlackBerry and Windows Phone users) and will retail for $249. There is also a Developer’s Kit that allows you to create your own apps for SCiO that will cost you $449.