SCiO: Your sixth sense?

Always wondered how much fat your salad dressing contains? Whether that chicken is fresh? How much sugar is in a particular piece of fruit? How pure an oil is? Not sure if that pill you’re about to take is Aspirin or Ibuprofen? Worried that your local pharmacy is slipping you some sort of generic drug instead of the real medicine? Or curious how much alcohol is in your drink?

In the last 10 years, we have all gotten used to having an instant ‘search button’ in our pocket that lets us know for example the ingredients of a certain product or how many calories a snack contains. Nowadays it is possible to simply use the SCiO scanner, a new pocket-sized molecular sensor. It lets you skip the typed-in search words and after scanning the physical object it quickly analyses the molecular levels and you instantly see, for example, its quality, ripeness and nutritional value with results sent straight to your smart phone.

How it works

This device uses near infra-red spectroscopy  and a cloud-based database of items to quickly scan and identify items based on their molecular structure. Spectrometers collect light reflected off the molecules comprising an object’s surface and convert this into a spectrum. All molecules vibrate in a unique pattern, and the spectrum shows how the reflected light interacts with those molecules.

When you scan a tomato, for example, the sensor is not identifying your target as a tomato, and looking up a typical tomato’s average nutritional scores in a static database. This device finds out the specific fat, carb, protein and calorie content for each tomato you have scanned.

A learning device

Nowadays it is possible to analyse food, plants, and medications with the SCiO scanner.However, these are just a few of the starter applications, new applications will be developed and released regularly. The possibilities of SCiO applications are endless since the aim for the future is to use this device to measure properties of cosmetics, clothes, flora, soil, jewels, precious stones, leather, rubber, oils, and plastics. Wouldn’t this be handy?

The SCiO scanner could for example be used by home brewers to establish a beer’s alcohol content, by consumers to find out allergens in food and cosmetics, by shoppers to authenticate luxury goods like gemstones and leather, and by anyone who wants to identify an obscure plant species.

Do you think this is a platform for future development? Would you use it? Could this SCiO scanning device revolutionize the way that everyday consumers interact with the world?


Consumer, (2015) Myscio [online] Available at: [Accessed on: 10 Oct. 2015], (2015) tinyscioscanner [online] Available at: [Accessed on 11 Oct. 2015], (2014) projects [online] Available at: [Accessed on 10 Oct. 2015], (2015) Articles [online] Available at: [Accessed on 10 Oct. 2015], (2015) thesciohandheldscanner [online] Available at: [Accessed on 10 Oct. 2015], (2015) Meet scio [online] Available at: [Accessed on 11 Oct. 2015]


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