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Handheld sensor reads your food

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Anyone who has been deceived by a punchbowl at a party, or a diet-busting cake, will recognize the value of knowing exactly what you are eating. A new pocket scanner promises to deliver that power by giving the user an instant breakdown of alcohol, sugar, or calorie content before they consume.

The product of Israeli start-up Consumer Physics, the device uses spectrometry to read the "molecular fingerprint" of an object, shining near Infra-Red light on it which stimulates the molecules and then records their reactions.

An accompanying app then displays the nutrient values on a smart phone, measuring fat, protein and carbohydrate levels to the milligram, as well as overall quality.

This underlying technology has been industry standard for decades in quality control of oil, sewage or chemicals. But SCiO is the first portable spectrometer for consumers, and offers far greater versatility of application. The product, developed by engineers from leading institutions such as MIT and Harvard, has been tested in live demonstrations with high accuracy. The final product will be sent to backers this year.

"The first application is for consumers interested to know the nutritional value of what they're eating", Dror Sharon, CEO of Consumer Physics says. "I often meet people who don't know what's in cheese, fruit and vegetables and have a hard time discerning what they should eat."

Uses do not end with food. Apps are available to analyze medicine or the health of houseplants. SCiO could also be a protective tool for regular night club patrons to check and see if their drink has been spiked.

To get your hands on one, check out SCiO's kickstarter campaign here.

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