A palm-sized sensor that can identify everything from the number of calories in a piece of cheese to whether or not those snakeskin boots on offer really were once part of a serpent, the Scio has a host of potential uses and could prove to be revolutionary.
Working alongside a smartphone app, it can analyze the chemical composition of pretty much any object and then push the results to the handset's screen.
The company is hoping that developers will take the Scio's potential and run with it to create new use-specific apps and features in the future, but out of the box, the device will be able to automatically detect the nutritional value in a host of foods, including salad dressings; analyze the ripeness of fruits, including avocados (through their skin); check if plants are under or overhydrated; and check the validity of a pill. Users will also be able to scan the chemical spectrum of just about anything in the world and then upload that data to Consumer Physics.
But that's just the start. The company points out that in the near future the gadget could be able to measure the properties of everything from cosmetics to precious stones and beyond.
At its heart, Scio is a spectrometer that shines near infrared light on an object and then monitors how much of the light is absorbed and how much bounces back. Everything absorbs this light at a different rate -- its optical signature -- and this signature is captured by the device and compared with those in the company's database.
Consumer Physics has already been busy adding data to it, including the makeup of all of the world's most popular salad dressings, for instance, but as well as crowdfunding, the Scio is focused on crowdsourcing: the more people who use it to scan a unique object, the bigger and more comprehensive the database will become.
And as for crowdfunding, even though the campaign only went live on Tuesday, it has already blown past its initial $200,000 funding goal. This means that the company has sold out of super early bird $149 versions of the device and new backers will have to settle for the $179 early bird offer instead.
The first Scios should start shipping to their owners in November and December this year and will be able to analyze food, plants and medicines via the existing app suite. Owners will also get free access to future apps and therefore uses for the first two years of ownership.