A new generation of hand-held molecular data readers offer us a glimpse at a safer, healthier, better informed future.
This month, Consumer Physics, an Israeli startup, will start shipping out a prototype of its maiden product, the SCiO handheld spectrometer, to a group of Kickstarter supporters-cum-beta testers. A pocket-sized molecular sensor capable of breaking down and reporting the constituent atomic matter of various objects, the device probably sounds like a niche interest for the at-home scientist crowd. But in truth, the technology underlying this little, eminently affordable trinket, could revolutionize the way that everyday consumers interact with the world. By allowing us to (as Consumer Physics founders Damian Goldring and Dror Sharon would put it) “Google” physical reality, one day devices like the SCiO may not just provide us with interesting information, but also detect counterfeits, poisons, and other scams, cons, and threats on the fly—among a host of other as-yet-unseen, but inspiring potential applications.