Grocery store shelves are overflowing with gorgeous products that look like they taste amazing. Unfortunately, more often than not, once you get home and take the first bite, you discover that the taste did not match the appearance. What if you could scan those apples or tomatoes before you purchase them to assess the sugar content, which would be an indicator of their taste? Or if you could scan cheeses to discover their fat and protein content? You would no longer be disappointed with your choices. The good news is that now you can do exactly that with SCiO – a miniature spectrometer that fits into the palm of your hand It’s roughly the size of a TicTac box and with its accompanying mobile app, it gives you an instant analysis of the content of any food product.
SCiO is like a small mobile laboratory. It uses advanced NIR (near infrared) scanning technology to produce accurate information about the consistency of a wide variety of objects. In combination with the SCiO cloud, the sensor ‘translates’ the initial data to information that anyone can understand and use. It is interactive and user-friendly. The user prompts the process to begin by asking if, let’s say, an apple is good. The SCiO cloud then searches the database and determines that an apple is good depending upon its sweetness. The SCiO sensor then shines an infrared light on the apple, awakening the molecules inside. The returning light exposes the chemical composition of the apple, measuring the sugar content and other molecular information. All of this is sent back to the cloud database, where the results are compared with a range of sweetness based upon thousands of previous scans. The analysis is done immediately and a report is transmitted to the consumer’s smartphone within only a few seconds. The database covers a wide range of materials such as fruits and vegetables, dairy products, chocolate, meat, fish and even an ability to determine your own body fat.
A complex team of chemists, physicists, computer specialists, mathematicians, pharmacists, and food scientists are involved in the development of the SCiO sensor and cloud, and it seems that many interesting developments are yet to come. You can already order and receive the hand-held spectrometer and accompanying app, but in the near future you’ll actually be able to purchase a smartphone with a SCiO chip embedded into it! It’s called the H2 and it will be available first in China and then, hopefully, in the rest of the world.
In addition to food product, SCiO has applications in a number of other industries, including pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and agriculture. It can differentiate between genuine pharmaceuticals and fake products. In the case of an overdose, the sensor can identify the drugs involved. SCiO can play a significant role in the manufacturing process, performing critical tasks such as identifying and validating raw materials as they arrive at the facility. Its ability to perform real time testing on finished products greatly simplifies the quality-control process. SCiO enables spectroscopic analysis to be performed straight from agricultural fields. It can be used to verify and optimize feed and fertilizer delivery to plants to ensure correct measurement and guard against waste.