Fake drugs and counterfeiting will soon be dead history. To be sure the drugs you bought from that shop is the real deal, you may need some expensive laboratory equipment and highly trained personnel or some government agency to do this on behalf of the public. But, this may soon be changing.


Lots of companies, products, and startup initiatives have been pushing the frontiers of this technology over the years – determined to bring high-end analytics to our fingertips. SCiO by Consumer Physics is one of such. The company has developed one of the world’s first molecular sensor that fits in the palm of your hand. With this device, you can scan just about anything and get instant relevant information directly to your smartphone.


Technology Highlights

The Near Infrared Spectrometer (NIR) in your hands (Photo: ConsumerPhysics)
  • SCiO combines two technology components – the revolutionary SCiO Sensor and the SCiO Cloud. They in effect have miniaturized the traditional Near Infrared Spectrometer and the patented optical head is now only a few millimeters in size in each dimension. This optical head provides sensitivity and accuracy levels on par with the best bench spectrometers which cost a lot of money and require specialized training to use. Low power consumption and zero warm up time make it highly responsive and efficient, allowing it to perform hundreds of scans from a small rechargeable battery.
  • To deliver relevant information in real time, SCiO communicates the spectrum of the sample to a smartphone wireless, which in turn forwards it to a cloud-based service for review. The SCiO cloud provides the analytical processing power and hosts the material databases. The cloud performs a number of key functions in the SCiO system – analyzing the spectrum within milliseconds and deliver information about the analyzed sample back to the user’s smartphone in real time.
OEM integration
  • Third party OEM integration have been adopted to increase the versatility and applications of the device e.g. with smartphones having an integrated SCiO sensor, this technology becomes much easier to carry and use. Consumer Physics is working with other companies to integrate its sensor into other products as well and also, there is also a platform for third-party developers to develop apps that leverage the sensor’s capabilities.

This technology has resounding applications beyond the foods and fake drugs. The Scio device was backed by thousands of people in a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2014, raising about $2.8 million on Kickstarter alone. They have gone on to win a lot of awards and worldwide recognition for their pioneering work. Though there have been complaints and controversies on waiting for devices to be delivered, the company appears keen to ensure the much-anticipated products gains successful widespread adoption.


Some other companies and products to take cautious note of in this space include:

TellSpec: a data company that offers affordable, reliable, nondestructive, handheld food analysis. According to their site, the technology includes a three-part system: a pocket-sized spectrometer, a cloud-based patented analysis engine, and a mobile app that work together to scan foods and also provide relevant information such as food fraud, food adulteration or food quality.


IPiit: Is basically an app that provides a guide in the jungle of food products and advises you according to your preferences. According to their site, just scan the bar-code and simply check what you want to avoid – the food ambassador will help you find the information that matters to you, products that are good for us and that we know what’s in them!


Content Checked: Are also apps that offer a unique mobile experience that analyzes food products in the United States to check if they fit the specific dietary needs of the user. The process is also based on a dedicated team of nutritional experts that validate data against the most up-to-date research to ensure quality. This process is done 24/7 and is constantly undergoing review.


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