SCiO hand-held molecular scanner analyzes food and drug composition

Published on May 05, 2014

SCiO hand-held molecular scanner analyzes food and drug composition

    Summer is just around the corner, and for many - this is the time when you need to follow a diet in order to look better in bathing suits by the onset of this hot season. Usually, when counting calories consumed, you need to look at tables and databases of food products, which, in fact, may not correspond to the contents in the plates.



    The new device, launched on the Kickstarter website, is designed to simplify this process by using spectrometry to analyze and provide information about any consumed food - in real time. Called SCiO, this molecular scanner developed by Tel Aviv's Consumer Physics uses spectroscopy technology(common in laboratories and industrial environments), placing it in a user device no larger than a flash drive.



    The process is very simple: you need to synchronize SCiO with your phone via Bluetooth, bring it to the product, say, an apple, at a distance of about 2-3cm and press the button. In just a few seconds, SCiO analyzes the actual chemical composition of the apple, sends data to the cloud service, accurately identifies the product and provides information on its nutritional value. A related application can also provide information on how ripe an apple is.

    The principle of operation of SCiO is based on the method of near infrared spectroscopy. The physical basis of this substance analysis method is that each type of molecule vibrates in a unique way, and these vibrations interact with the light to create their own unique optical signature.

    SCiO contains a light source that irradiates the sample, and then the optical sensor spectrometer collects the light reflected from the sample. The spectrometer breaks the light into separate spectra, which include all the information necessary to detect the result of this interaction between the reflected light and the molecules in the sample.

    The spectrometers used in infrared spectroscopy are usually very large and expensive: they can be the size of a laptop and cost tens of thousands of dollars, while the unique SCiO spectrometer is tiny in size and inexpensive. SCiO developers have reinvented the spectrometer, combining low-cost optics and modern signal processing algorithms.



    In addition, SCiO can also scan drugs. During a visual demonstration of the device, one of the founders of Consumer Physics, Dror Sharon, scanned two brands of ibuprofen, and SCiO was able to determine which drug was fake. As for the other medical capabilities of the SCiO scanner, Sharon explained that at first the device will not be sold as a medical device, but it has the ability to scan skin and body fluids and, with sufficient demand from consumers, could well turn into a medical device.

    All horizons are open to potential applications; the SCiO device has the ability to identify large quantities of food and medicine, but users will need help to expand the company's database. Consumer Physics is also about to release an application developer kit so that programmers can create their own applications using SCiO. One of these is an application that helps to grow a houseplant: scan the plant using the included application and it will tell you if your plant needs water.

    At the moment, the SCiO hand-held molecular scanner has already raised $ 722.759 with a stated target of $ 200,000.

    Project Page on Kickstarter.

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