Interesting Invention: A Food-scanner that fits in Your Pocket


What if you always knew what you where about to put into your mouth or what the substances are present in the toys your children play with? Whether you worry about the amount or type of chemicals present in a product or just about calorie intake you will for sure be intrigued by the possible performance of a tiny hand-held food-scanner that is soon hitting the market.

SCiO is an interesting invention from the Israeli startup Consumer Physics, and is basically a pocket-sized spectrometer that tells you the chemical makeup of what you eat, including nutritional info like calories, carbs, sugars, and more. Its Kickstarter campaign hit close to $3 million in June last year, and since then the company have been working to continuously develop their food-scanning technology.

Now, the magazine Entrepreneur reports about the improved product from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. With SCiO, users are able to do things like scan their foods to see the caloric content, the fat or sugars they contained, how ripe a fruit is, and even how pure a cooking oil is or if a pill (it can do non-food items, too) is real or fake. The company calls its product “your sixth sense”.

According to TechCrunch, the device includes a light source that illuminates the sample and a spectrometer (an optical sensor) that collects the light reflected from the sample, which is what helps it determine the item’s molecular makeup. After scanning the object in question, the device communicates with a mobile app via Bluetooth, which in turn forwards the lookup to a cloud-based service for review. The app then returns the information requested in real-time.

In addition to the food-scanner itself, SCiO is offering a platform for developers who would be able to build custom applications using its technology. For example, suggests the Consumer Physics website, developers could teach the SCiO to monitor the various stages of the brewing process for those who make their own craft beers, or they could teach it to identify various plastics to help with recycling. The company envisions a future where the scanner could be used to measure the properties of a range of items, including things like cosmetics, clothes, flora, soil, jewels and precious stones, leather, rubber, oils, plastics, and more.

Dror Sharon, CEO and co-founder of Consumer Physics, told Entrepreneur:

“You don’t have to be a scientist; users can just follow their curiosity. The applications are truly endless and as SCiO grows and learns so will our users be able to scan more and more materials. “

The latter part of the above statement indicates that learning is an important piece of the puzzle for SCiO.  In order for the device to accurately scan something, it will need to have scanned it before and have the item in its database. Once it’s saved, it can always identity that item in the future. It can even tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi. The more people who use SCiO the greater that database will eventually become.

We guess that our dear readers are now eager to try out this interesting piece of technology. The food-scanner is currently available for pre-order on the company’s website with as estimated ship date of July 2015 for a cost of 249 dollars.


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