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

Posted:
in iPhone edited May 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    buckalecbuckalec Posts: 192member

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

  • Reply 2 of 39
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 39
    yojimbo007yojimbo007 Posts: 953member
    This is as startrek as anything gets !
  • Reply 4 of 39
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,449member
    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.

  • Reply 5 of 39
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,423member

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

  • Reply 6 of 39
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Originally Posted by Yojimbo007 View Post

    This is as startrek as anything gets !

  • Reply 7 of 39
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,476member
    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.

  • Reply 8 of 39
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,139member
    yojimbo007 wrote: »
    This is as startrek as anything gets !

    Want to invest in my transporter beam machine? ;)

    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.
  • Reply 9 of 39
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,139member
    maestro64 wrote: »
    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!
  • Reply 10 of 39
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,139member
    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!
  • Reply 11 of 39
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,819member

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

  • Reply 12 of 39
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,476member
    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.

  • Reply 13 of 39
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,834member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post





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

     

    "caloric"  ????

  • Reply 14 of 39
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,476member
    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.

  • Reply 15 of 39
    yojimbo007yojimbo007 Posts: 953member
    Want to invest in my transporter beam machine? ;)

    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 ....
  • Reply 16 of 39
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,657member
    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.

  • Reply 17 of 39
    dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 12,505member
    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,
    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.  :D


    AAPL $600.96 and counting -- $700 or bust.
  • Reply 18 of 39
    semi_guysemi_guy Posts: 48member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 39
    dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 12,505member
    semi_guy wrote: »
    Seems that Raman, Fluorescence, and NIR spectroscopy are coming to the consumer markets. A few months back another company, TellSpec <http://tellspec.com>, 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.
  • Reply 20 of 39
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,139member
    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.  :D



    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. :smokey:
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