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This incredible handheld scanner breaks down what you’re eating molecule by molecule

Published May 7th, 2014 11:59PM EDT
SCiO Handheld Spectrometer Kickstarter

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Now this is an incredible way to count calories. Israeli company Consumer Physics has launched a new Kickstarter project that might be the most ambitious idea we’ve yet seen on the popular crowd-funding website. The product is called SCiO and it’s essentially a handheld spectrometer that breaks down an object’s compounds by scanning the way that light interacts with its molecular vibrations to determine its unique optical signature.

Consumer Physics has posted several demonstration videos showing this handheld scanner’s many potential applications, including scanning your food to get calorie counts, scanning pills to see what chemical compounds they’re made of, and scanning your household plants and flowers to see if they need more water. It’s not hard to imagine that this sort of device could also be extremely useful for people who have food allergies since it could conceivably be used to detect whether your food contains nuts or dairy products that give you allergic reactions.

After you scan an object with the SCiO, it will send data on it to your smartphone, which will analyze it using algorithms in the official SCiO smartphone app. What makes this particularly impressive is the speed at which it works — within just a couple of seconds of scanning an apple, for instance, you’ll get its calorie count and and even how many grams of sugar it contains. What’s more, Consumer Physics is encouraging people to upload all of their findings into a central database to help make the application smarter over time — this means that the more people use SCiO, the better it will get.

Consumer Physics has already blown past its initial Kickstarter funding goal of $200,000 and as of this writing it’s closing in on $1 million with 39 more days still to go.

You can watch Consumer Physics’ Kickstarter video of SCiO below.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.