Tuesday, September 2, 2014

SCiO – Handheld Molecular Food Ingredients Scanner

Smartphones give us instant answers to questions like where to have dinner, what movie to see, and how to get from point A to point B, but when it comes to learning about what we interact with on a daily basis we’re left in the dark. We designed SCiO to empower explorers everywhere with new knowledge and to encourage them to join our mission of mapping the physical world.

Dror Sharon, the CEO of Consumer Physics

SCiO is the world's first affordable molecular sensor that fits in the palm of your hand. It is a non-intrusive, no-touch optical sensor that provides a seamless user experience with the click of a button, while data is sent directly to your smartphone.

How it Works?

SCiO is based on the near-IR spectroscopy method. The physical basis for this material analysis method is that each type of molecule vibrates in its own unique way, and these vibrations interact with light to create its own unique optical signature.

SCiO includes a light source that illuminates the sample and an optical sensor called a spectrometer that collects the light reflected from the sample. The spectrometer breaks down the light to its spectrum, which includes all the information required to detect the result of this interaction between the illuminated light and the molecules in the sample.

The spectrometers which are normally used for these high-end near-IR spectroscopy applications are very big and expensive. They can be the size of a laptop and cost tens of thousands of dollars. SCiO is unique as it is based on a tiny spectrometer, designed from the ground up to be mass-produced at low cost with minimal compromise on the available application. This unique feature is achieved by several technology breakthroughs our team has made in the past few years, as we reinvented the spectrometer around low-cost optics and advanced signal processing algorithms. 

SCiO illuminates a spot of light over the sample with a diameter of about 15 mm (about half an inch) and depth of a few millimeters (~0.1”). The sensor detects the light that is reflected back from the illuminated part of the object and analyzes its chemical make-up using sophisticated cloud-based algorithms. The overall analysis is subject to the average of concentration of molecules in that region.

To deliver relevant information in real time, SCiO communicates the spectrum to your smartphone app via Bluetooth, which in turn forwards it to a cloud-based service. Advanced algorithms analyze the spectrum and within seconds deliver information regarding the analyzed sample back to the smartphone to be presented in real time to the user.

Technical Specs

What Can You Do With It Today?

Out of the box, when you get your SCiO, you’ll be able to analyze food, plants, and medications.

The process is simple: pair SCiO to your phone via Bluetooth, hold it about an inch away from an object, such as an apple, and press a button. In just a matter of seconds, SCiO supposedly analyzes the actual chemical makeup of the apple, sends the data to the cloud, and accurately identifies the fruit and provides nutritional information about it. The food app can also give information about how ripe that apple is.

Additionally, SCiO can also scan medication. During one of the live demonstrations, Consumer Physics’ co-founder Dror Sharon scanned two brands of ibuprofen, and SCiO was able to identify which pill was a generic brand. Sharon explained that SCiO won’t be marketed as a medical device at the start, but has the capability of scanning the skin and bodily fluids and could evolve into a medical device if there is enough interest from consumers.

For example, you can:

* Get nutritional facts about different kinds of food: salad dressings, sauces, fruits, cheeses, and much more.
* See how ripe an Avocado is, through the peel!
* Find out the quality of your cooking oil.
* Know the well being of your plants.
* Analyze soil or hydroponic solutions.
* Authenticate medications or supplements.
* Upload and tag the spectrum of any material on Earth to our database. Even yourself!

These are just a few of the starter applications that you can use upon receiving your SCiO. After SCiO is released new applications will be developed and released regularly.

The possibilities of SCiO applications are endless. For example in the future you can use SCiO to measure properties of cosmetics, clothes, flora, soil, jewels and precious stones, leather, rubber, oils, plastics, and even your pet!

Please Note: Out-of-the-box SCiO is NOT a medical device and should not be used to treat or prevent medical conditions such as allergies.


The SCiO developers is the Consumer Physics (Israel).

SCiO launch on Kickstarter raised almost $3M, making it the 17th most funded Kickstarter campaign ever - of over 150,000. The launch has received worldwide media coverage: CNN, TIME, BBC, NEW YORK TIMES and many others.

Video Presentation

Sources and Additional Information:

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