Pocket-sized molecular spectrometer can determine the chemical makeup of nearly anything in seconds

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Have you ever come across something you couldn’t immediately identify? I don’t mean something like a song, barcode or QR code (there are already apps to help with that), but an actual physical item like a type of food, a pill or even a plant.

Sure, you could post a picture of it on Reddit in hopes of finding someone that knows what it is or try your luck on Google but that’d require some research on your part and a bit of luck.

Or you could try a device from Consumer Physics called Scio that recently appeared on Kickstarter. It’s a handheld molecular sensor that can scan virtually anything and determine its chemical makeup in a matter of seconds through the use of near-infrared spectroscopy.

It may sound like wizardry but the truth is, this sort of technology has been around for quite some time. Breaking it down into easy-to-understand concepts, the device beams out a near-infrared light onto the surface of the object in question. This light causes the object’s molecules to vibrate and it’s the vibration that is then passed through the spectrometer and analyzed to determine its makeup.

The keychain-sized device works in conjunction with your smartphone via Bluetooth to display information about each reading.

It’s all pretty fascinating stuff and there are a ton of practical uses for such a device like determining how ripe fruit is through the peel, checking the quality of your cooking oil, gauging the well-being of plants and identifying medications or supplements.

A pledge of $199 is necessary to secure your order although that batch is nearly spoken for. After that, you’ll have to fork over an additional $100 for the opportunity.

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