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SCiO will turn Apple's iPhone into a portable molecular scanner for $299

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
Accidentally slicing into an unripe avocado or trying to guess the nutritional value of a restaurant meal might soon be problems of the past thanks to SCiO, a pocket-sized spectrometer that lets users analyze the molecular structure of anything from food to plants -- even the human body -- and view the results on their iPhone.



Consumer Physics, SCiO's creators, promise a Star Trek-like experience with the device. Users can point the Zippo-sized scanner at an avocado, for example, and find out how ripe the fruit is without touching or peeling it.

SCiO could be used to analyze a plate of food to determine its caloric and fat content, making meal tracking easier. It might also help users ensure their medication is authentic, or check soil conditions and alert gardeners that their plants aren't receiving enough water.

"Imagine if there was a way to know the chemical makeup of everything you come in contact with," Consumer Physics cofounder Damian Goldring said in a promotional video for the gadget. "The applications are endless."




SCiO connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth Low Energy and works in tandem with a custom companion application. SCiO sends its raw data to the cloud for analysis, and the results are returned to the users' handset.

SCiO takes its readings using a method called near-infrared spectroscopy, in which light reflected from an object is analyzed by a sensor known as a spectrometer. Since different molecules interact with light in unique ways, the spectrometer can determine which molecules were responsible for the light signature that it sees.

Handheld spectrometers that operate on this method already exist, but they are generally large, bulky items that can cost thousands of dollars. Consumer Physics says they used low-cost optics and advanced algorithms to make SCiO smaller and significantly lower its price compared to other NIR spectrometers.

The technology behind SCiO is similar to an approach Apple has been rumored to be studying for its so-called "iWatch." Apple, however, is though to be focused on health benefits -- such as noninvasive blood oxygen and glucose monitoring -- rather than general-purpose spectroscopy.

At press time, SCiO has raised $780,000 -- nearly four times its initial $200,000 goal -- with 41 days remaining in its Kickstarter campaign.
post #2 of 40

sames to good to be true - hopefully I'm wrong

post #3 of 40
A number of people on the crowdsourced funding site and other forums have said that this device seems a bit "too good to be true" in terms of scientific feasibility, cost, etc. It may be that AppleInsider has been taken in by the hype as well.
post #4 of 40
This is as startrek as anything gets !
post #5 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"Imagine if there was a way to know the chemical makeup of everything you come in contact with..."

Yes, imagine, because that's far different from the reality. This device will only provide reasonably accurate results if what you're testing is in its database. If that salty, greasy spaghetti sauce at Olive Garden hasn't been quantified, then there's no telling what results you'll get--other than cardiovascular disease.

post #6 of 40

Wow, this seems really cool, if it actually works good.

post #7 of 40
Originally Posted by Yojimbo007 View Post
This is as startrek as anything gets !

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #8 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by OcelotWreak View Post

A number of people on the crowdsourced funding site and other forums have said that this device seems a bit "too good to be true" in terms of scientific feasibility, cost, etc. It may be that AppleInsider has been taken in by the hype as well.

yeah I have to agree, no way you can know calorie content of a food item by scanning it, you need to know the weight of the object and a number of other things to know the calorie content. I have not kept on this science, but I believe they still measure it by burning the food and measuring the heat.

post #9 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yojimbo007 View Post

This is as startrek as anything gets !

Want to invest in my transporter beam machine? 1wink.gif

Seriously I think the doubters are too quick to rush to judgement here, it holds massive potential. I have a potable miniature, brass spectrometer that was my grandfather's dating from the 1940's which he used to analyze chemicals at his company, a benzene extraction plant. No database in the cloud but the ability to read the meaning of dark lines on a spectrograph. This, with modern science and computing is easily capable of achieving the goals in the commercial. Of course it will get better over time as that database grows but off the bat it will be able to tell you many useful things.

My question is how it scans, how it penetrates an object, i.e. not just reflecting off the surface.
Edited by digitalclips - 5/5/14 at 12:32pm
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post #10 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

yeah I have to agree, no way you can know calorie content of a food item by scanning it, you need to know the weight of the object and a number of other things to know the calorie content. I have not kept on this science, but I believe they still measure it by burning the food and measuring the heat.

The calorific value of things like sugar are well know without the need to burn them!
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post #11 of 40
This brings back a memory from the 1960's when my father had just had a massive system like this installed at his company and they were playing with it to learn how to use it. They tested a whole bunch of things but the one that sticks was different alcoholic drinks. It turned out that the best and most expensive brandy contained by far the most organic poisons (excluding C2H5OH that is lol), presumably from the oak caskets. The cheaper the booze the less harmful chemicals were found. I never fail to think of this when sipping a brandy!
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post #12 of 40

These two gentlemen making the video are a couple of scammers. 

bb
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post #13 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post
 

These two gentlemen making the video are a couple of scammers. 

I kind of got the same feeling, it just did not feel right.

post #14 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


The calorific value of things like sugar are well know without the need to burn them!

 

"caloric"  👍

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #15 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


The calorific value of things like sugar are well know without the need to burn them!

yeah but scanning a protein shake, or smoothie like they showed can not determine the caloric content of an unknown, but I believe today even for prepared foods they still go through a dehydration process and them burning it to determine the actually caloric content.

 

BTW I just looked it up they still use the "bomb calorimeter" to measure calories in food unless they know the individually components of food like proteins, fats, carbohydrates and so on and know the weight amount for each then they can use a table as you suggested to determine the total calories. This devices is not weighting anything and I get suspicious of a person who is making claims about their products when you know full well it can not be done. These are the scientists who made the product not some marketing type. They should know better.

post #16 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Want to invest in my transporter beam machine? 1wink.gif

Seriously I think the doubters are too quick to rush to judgement here, it holds massive potential. I have a potable miniature, brass spectrometer that was my grandfather's dating from the 1940's which he used to analyze chemicals at his company, a benzene extraction plant. No database in the cloud but the ability to read the meaning of dark lines on a spectrograph. This, with modern science and computing is easily capable of achieving the goals in the commercial. Of course it will get better over time as that database grows but off the bat it will be able to tell you many useful things.

My question is how it scans, how it penetrates an object, i.e. not just reflecting off the surface.

It reminds me of McCoy hovering this cylindrical object over an injured person and reading the results on his med tablet !

I doubt this thing will read whats inside an object.
For that slice the object ....
post #17 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

This brings back a memory from the 1960's when my father had just had a massive system like this installed at his company and they were playing with it to learn how to use it. They tested a whole bunch of things but the one that sticks was different alcoholic drinks. It turned out that the best and most expensive brandy contained by far the most organic poisons (excluding C2H5OH that is lol), presumably from the oak caskets. The cheaper the booze the less harmful chemicals were found. I never fail to think of this when sipping a brandy!

I had a similar experience when I worked in a quality control lab at a chemical plant.  One of the lab techs was making his own homebrew beer. Remember this was in the 70s when you were considered a massive weirdo if you made your own beer.  They ran his beer throughout the Gas Chromatograph and saw all sorts of things that were considered harmful chemicals - aldehydes in particular.  Of course those chemicals are responsible for many of the flavors in foods were hold dear.  Didn't stop some alarmists from refusing to drink any of his beer.  They also ran the beer the the mass spec, but I don't remember what they found there.

 

If this new device works as hoped, it might provide a way of detecting skunky beer at your sleazier dives.  Or Chilis maybe.

post #18 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

This brings back a memory from the 1960's when my father had just had a massive system like this installed at his company and they were playing with it to learn how to use it. They tested a whole bunch of things but the one that sticks was different alcoholic drinks. It turned out that the best and most expensive brandy contained by far the most organic poisons (excluding C2H5OH that is lol), presumably from the oak caskets. The cheaper the booze the less harmful chemicals were found. I never fail to think of this when sipping a brandy!

Digi,
Quote:
It turned out that the best and most expensive brandy contained by far the most organic poisons

doctor says it's gonna' kill me -- but he don't say when ...
-- David Bromberg Cocaine Blues

Was that a mass spectrometer from:

Consolidated Electrodynamics Corporation
300 North Sierra Madre Boulevard
Pasadena, California 91024 *

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consolidated_Engineering_Corporation


* That was the way the Name and Address appeared on all correspondence, etc. -- it was especially difficult to get those 98 characters on an 80-column punched card (in wide use in that era).


I worked as an operator in the Tab (IBM Tabulating Machine) Department for CEC 1n 1958-1960. My sister's husband worked in the mass spectrometer division and I was able to get a personal tour.

Those were very expensive and massive machines in labs similar to the maimframe computer rooms of the following decades.

They could provide amazing and accurate analyses of almost anything you could bring to it.


If the NIR spectrometry capability is anything close to the above, it will be amazing -- as you can bring the spectrometer to the sample.

And yes, massive amounts of data and data processing are/were involved -- CEC had a DataTape Division (large, dense, fast magnetic tapes); and a Computer Division, ElectroData, that built the DataTron Computer which was later sold to Burroughs Corp.

Burroughs bought the whole deal buildings, plant, equipment -- everything. The Tab Department manager's office looked out on the Burroughs shipping dock -- so we could see whenever Burroughs sold/shipped [Sammy take note] a computer -- maybe, 2-3 in the two years I worked at CEC.  1biggrin.gif


AAPL $600.96 and counting -- $700 or bust.
Edited by Dick Applebaum - 5/5/14 at 1:58pm
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post #19 of 40
Seems that Raman, Fluorescence, and NIR spectroscopy are coming to the consumer markets. A few months back another company, TellSpec , had announced a similar device. The race is on for developing algorithms and databases to determine if these fine shifts in peaks can be accurately determine what is in your food.
post #20 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by semi_guy View Post

Seems that Raman, Fluorescence, and NIR spectroscopy are coming to the consumer markets. A few months back another company, TellSpec , had announced a similar device. The race is on for developing algorithms and databases to determine if these fine shifts in peaks can be accurately determine what is in your food.

Oddly, the tech brings back early childhood memories (and odors) of burning ants on the sidewalk with a magnifying glass.
"...The calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, For ships are safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
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post #21 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Digi,
doctor says it's gonna' kill me -- but he don't say when ...
-- David Bromberg Cocaine Blues

Was that a mass spectrometer from:

Consolidated Electrodynamics Corporation
300 North Sierra Madre Boulevard
Pasadena, California 91024 *

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consolidated_Engineering_Corporation


* That was the way the Name and Address appeared on all correspondence, etc. -- it was especially difficult to get those 98 characters on an 80-column punched card (in wide use in that era).


I worked as an operator in the Tab (IBM Tabulating Machine) Department for CEC 1n 1958-1960. My sister's husband worked in the mass spectrometer division and I was able to get a personal tour.

Those were very expensive and massive machines in labs similar to the maimframe computer rooms of the following decades.

They could provide amazing and accurate analyses of almost anything you could bring to it.


If the NIR spectrometry capability is anything close to the above, it will be amazing -- as you can bring the spectrometer to the sample.

And yes, massive amounts of data and data processing are/were involved -- CEC had a DataTape Division (large, dense, fast magnetic tapes); and a Computer Division, ElectroData, that built the DataTron Computer which was later sold to Burroughs Corp.

Burroughs bought the whole deal buildings, plant, equipment -- everything. The Tab Department manager's office looked out on the Burroughs shipping dock -- so we could see whenever Burroughs sold/shipped [Sammy take note] a computer -- maybe, 2-3 in the two years I worked at CEC.  1biggrin.gif



AAPL $600.96 and counting -- $700 or bust.


Wow, thanks for the background information. We live in exciting times.

Yes 600 baby!

I am on my 2nd G&T celebrating 600 and I am not looking again till tomorrow in case it dipped. 1smoking.gif
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post #22 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

yeah but scanning a protein shake, or smoothie like they showed can not determine the caloric content of an unknown, but I believe today even for prepared foods they still go through a dehydration process and them burning it to determine the actually caloric content.

BTW I just looked it up they still use the "bomb calorimeter" to measure calories in food unless they know the individually components of food like proteins, fats, carbohydrates and so on and know the weight amount for each then they can use a table as you suggested to determine the total calories. This devices is not weighting anything and I get suspicious of a person who is making claims about their products when you know full well it can not be done. These are the scientists who made the product not some marketing type. They should know better.

Maybe the ad is missing a few steps out perhaps you type or speak in some info first then scan? I am guessing an avocado's skin contain chemicals only present when ripe inside ... and so on.
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post #23 of 40
"Imagine if there was a way to know the chemical makeup of everything you come in contact with,"

I'd probably find out half my co-workers are snorting coke.
post #24 of 40
Lol. 1biggrin.gif
post #25 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post



Lol 1biggrin.gif
post #26 of 40
Near IR spectra. not my first choice but it's a start.
post #27 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Oddly, the tech brings back early childhood memories (and odors) of burning ants on the sidewalk with a magnifying glass.

Beware of karma!
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post #28 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Oddly, the tech brings back early childhood memories (and odors) of burning ants on the sidewalk with a magnifying glass.

Beware of karma!

LOL
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post #29 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleCPA View Post

"Imagine if there was a way to know the chemical makeup of everything you come in contact with,"

I'd probably find out half my co-workers are snorting coke.


Or, Wow -- That girl is hot -- only 97% water ...
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post #30 of 40
The magic, if there is any, will be in the database developed. Scan a more on your skin to see if there is no problem, pre-cancer or cancer? There needs to be relevant data available to deliver results to the user.

Fortunately there will be a lot of support for a legitimate product. Dermatologists will be a great group for expanding a database.
Ken
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Ken
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post #31 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by WelshDog View Post
 

I had a similar experience when I worked in a quality control lab at a chemical plant.  One of the lab techs was making his own homebrew beer. Remember this was in the 70s when you were considered a massive weirdo if you made your own beer.  They ran his beer throughout the Gas Chromatograph and saw all sorts of things that were considered harmful chemicals - aldehydes in particular.  Of course those chemicals are responsible for many of the flavors in foods were hold dear.  Didn't stop some alarmists from refusing to drink any of his beer.  They also ran the beer the the mass spec, but I don't remember what they found there.

 

If this new device works as hoped, it might provide a way of detecting skunky beer at your sleazier dives.  Or Chilis maybe.

 

The problem with this device will not be in what it can do but in what it cannot. Limited capability will doubtless result in false readings, failure to analyse and a lot of food rejected at the table in restaurants. Havoc might well ensue lol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Was that a mass spectrometer from:

Consolidated Electrodynamics Corporation
300 North Sierra Madre Boulevard
Pasadena, California 91024 *

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consolidated_Engineering_Corporation

If the NIR spectrometry capability is anything close to the above, it will be amazing -- as you can bring the spectrometer to the sample.

And yes, massive amounts of data and data processing are/were involved -- CEC had a DataTape Division (large, dense, fast magnetic tapes); and a Computer Division, ElectroData, that built the DataTron Computer which was later sold to Burroughs Corp.

Burroughs bought the whole deal buildings, plant, equipment -- everything. The Tab Department manager's office looked out on the Burroughs shipping dock -- so we could see whenever Burroughs sold/shipped [Sammy take note] a computer -- maybe, 2-3 in the two years I worked at CEC.  1biggrin.gif
 

 

Mass spectrometry has been described the ultimate analytical tool for the technique's ability to discern substances down to not just the atomic level but to the level of distinguishing isotopes of single elements. This is the particular strength of magnetic sector mass spectrometers but these carry a penalty of requiring massive magnets, required to cause fractionation of the isotopes, particularly heavier ones such as lead. (The four stable isotopes of lead occur in slightly different abundances in nature in different locations and so, a magnetic sector mass spectrometer can not only identify lead but from which mine around the world a sample came.) Less capable mass spectrometers which are never the less fabulously sensitive, such as quadrupole mass spectrometers, still require space imposed by the physics of the process in which to separate and analyse compounds. A gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GCMS) can be quite compact, however not a miniature device. Thermoscientific (http://www.thermoscientific.com/content/tfs/en/product/msq-plus-single-quadrupole-mass-spectrometer.html) apparently claim their quadrupole MS to be the most compact at 12" wide. Generally too but not always, sample preparation is quite rigorous. One convenient way to prepare a sample however, is to zap it with a IR laser, such as used on Mars rovers. The ejecta (not volcanic but too small to be seen lol) can be studied spectrographically or sampled by a mass spec.

 

Until the field matures in probably many years time, this tool will cause untold headaches for consumers, food preparers, producers and dispensers. :)

Where are we on the curve? We'll know once it goes asymptotic!
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Where are we on the curve? We'll know once it goes asymptotic!
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post #32 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yojimbo007 View Post

This is as startrek as anything gets !

 

"Scanners are detecting tetryon particles in the upper tertiary EM band. It could be emissions from a cloaking field masking the warp signature of a vessel."

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #33 of 40
People will probably use it to check their coke and then have the data nicked by the NSA
post #34 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

I kind of got the same feeling, it just did not feel right.
Why? Because they have foreign accents? Wait until they release a working product before passing judgement. I whiff a little anti-Israelitis from you and the bloke you're quoting.
post #35 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

This brings back a memory from the 1960's when my father had just had a massive system like this installed at his company and they were playing with it to learn how to use it. They tested a whole bunch of things but the one that sticks was different alcoholic drinks. It turned out that the best and most expensive brandy contained by far the most organic poisons (excluding C2H5OH that is lol), presumably from the oak caskets. The cheaper the booze the less harmful chemicals were found. I never fail to think of this when sipping a brandy!

Brilliant! So the moral is—the tastier your drink, the more organic poisons you need. Sounds about right to me.
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post #36 of 40

Forget everything else; if you want to give me a Christmas present -- nothing better than a molecular scanner!

 

OK, I'll take a Tesla too, as long as I'm making impossible wishes.

 

Beam me up Scotty.

post #37 of 40

To be honest, when I was about 8 or 9, I used to have dreams of people wearing these bands on their wrists or throats. Crystals in the lining would analyze light off the skin and determine the health of the person -- their chemistry, not just heart rate and respiration, and pick up on their brain waves to detect sleep or excitation.

 

I so would have loved to be a scientist involved in such things and I wish I could afford to buy something like this for my kids.

 

Anyway, the point to such a device was to create a "health alert" device -- it could be used to detect whether something you were about to eat or interact with would be healthy or harmful, and it could be used to sense danger for the person and alert authorities. It basically wiped out muggings and personal attacks as a system.

 

I wouldn't trust today's law enforcement with this -- they are too busy being a revenue source and going after people using drugs who happen to be in the section of town where they bust people for using drugs -- pay no attention the people who can AFFORD drugs and use them with abandon.

 

The thing about introducing a cheap spectrometer to society is that it can be used to collect real-time health data, and nutrition information, and with a large enough database, discover things that we didn't know we didn't know. Like perhaps modern plastics and cows milk are behind 90% of all cancers (or not?) If you had enough people using these things all the time -- you would have basically everyone participating in a real-world lab. The discoveries for human health would eclipse everything done before in a  few short years.

 

I'm fairly sure we will find that people are better off with a bit more bacteria, and trying to get rid of the ones that we are adapted to, results in allergies - things of that nature will be proven yeah or nay.

 

 

On the other hand; we have no infrastructure to protect privacy or advocate for health. Whatever is gleaned will be get a corporate secrete and doled out as an expensive treatment. If baking soda and a healthy diet can cure cancer -- you won't have it acknowledged. I wasn't born a conspiracy theorist, it's human nature in the USA that has brought me to the realization that scum rises to the top of the pond -- not cream. I'd love to have this device AFTER it is free from someone else's cloud and perhaps anonymized and open source. Until then, you are paying to be someone's lab rat.

post #38 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yojimbo007 View Post

This is as startrek as anything gets !

 

But only if it makes the sounds from the app while scanning!!

post #39 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

Brilliant! So the moral is—the tastier your drink, the more organic poisons you need. Sounds about right to me.

Yep, it also explains the headache you get from the finer booze.
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post #40 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


Yep, it also explains the headache you get from the finer booze.

I find that beer gives me much worse headaches than wine, which might throw a spanner in your theory.

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