Scanner allowing Smartphone users to find out sugar levels in a piece of fruit, or the fat in cheese, could be widespread in years.
Within just a few years, every smartphone could be fitted with a tiny molecular scanner that would transform what we know about the physical world. That’s the prediction of the CEO of Consumer Physics, an Israeli start-up company that has developed a hand-held scanner they say will open up a new branch of easily accessible knowledge for the public.
The current model is able to pinpoint properties such as the sugar content in an individual piece of fruit, the percentage of fat in a particular cheese, or identify whether a drug is counterfeit or an illegal substance. From dieting, to winemaking, to policing, its creators claim the potential uses are “endless”. The scanner uses the near-infrared spectrum to analyse light reflected from objects and decipher their unique molecular fingerprints. That fingerprint is then used to deliver a range of information about the object to the user’s smartphone.
After a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in 2014 and numerous demonstrations at technology conferences around the world, the SCiO scanner has become one of the most talked about new technologies of 2015. Now the creators are hoping to take the device to the next level.
The working scanner is now available for sale on the company’s website, and along with the mobile app, kits have been sent to more than a thousand developers, from external companies to entrepreneurs. The collaborative effort is already under way, with “meet ups” of developers being held to test possible applications for the technology. The aim is to create a platform which allows users to innovate themselves while adding to the underlying database.
Dror Sharon, the CEO and co-founder of Consumer Physics, Said “We’re looking for developers, people with access to special materials that can help us scan and expand the database of the physical materials in the world.”We might not have access to specialty gemstones, however there are people that do have access, there are people that measure gemstones all the time. “So they can build a database and if they so wish to do, which we hope they will, they will share it with the rest of the world and suddenly you and I at home, if we get a gemstone, we can analyse it, know its quality, understand the different types. That goes for foods, for pharmaceuticals, for anything.”
Molecular scanners are not a new technology they are used daily by a range of industries but until now they have been big and expensive. The creators believe the current SCiO scanner is small enough and cheap enough to transform the viability for consumer use.
But the CEO says they will soon be ready to go even further. “The next generation, which is even smaller, can actually go into wearables, tablets and obviously smartphones. And if you think of the 1.5 billion smartphones made in 2015, we don’t need a lot to start. We hope in five years, this can be inside each and every one of them.”