SCiO, the 'sixth sense' sensor

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SCiO, the 'sixth sense' sensor

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It has been called “your sixth sense”.

SCiO – after the Latin verb “to know” – is a molecular sensor that fits in the palm of your hand, and provides instant information about the chemical make-up of objects around you.

Data is sent via Bluetooth directly to your smartphone. Simply by pointing and clicking on the sensor, users can see how many calories are in a piece of cheese, or determine when a tomato will be fully ripe.

It’s the brainchild of the Israeli company “Consumer Physics”.

The firm’s Technology Developer Dror Sharon said:
“SCiO uses the age-old science of near IR spectroscopy – that’s ‘near infrared’. We shine light on materials. That light creates vibrations inside the molecules. Those vibrations absorb part of the light. We detect the reflection of the light. That reflection then creates a fingerprint that correlates with the underlying chemistry of the materials. So we are able to correlate between what we are measuring, to the chemistry, and send that information to your smartphone.”

SCiO is being marketed for food, pharmaceuticals and horticulture. At a pharmacy in Jerusalem, a chemist experiments with a SCiO prototype. He says it could be useful to identify medicines in an emergency if a drug is not labelled.

The developer’s dream is a machine allowing people to analyse the physical matter of everything around them.

“Every backer (user) will have the chance if they want to, to scan the world around them and get more and more information. And if they come upon a material that we don’t have in our database, they can actually upload it. And that way we’ll accelerate the building of the world’s largest database of matter,” Sharon says.

The spectrometers which are normally used for these applications are big and expensive.

The project has been funded via the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.

SCiO is expected to hit the market some time in 2015, at a price of around 220 euros.