Community Blogger Series: No More Calorie Counting

This week we’re featuring a piece from guest blogger Juno Castillo Siu as the first of our Community Blogger series. Email us at madbuzzhk@gmail.com if you'd like to submit a guest blog too! Check out the "Write For Us!" tab at the top of the page for more details
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Community Blogger Series: No More Calorie Counting

Calorie counting is hard. Guess what? The arrival of the world’s first molecular sensor SCiO could be the end of all the hassle. This little buddy can (supposingly) analyse your food, break down exactly what it’s made of and detect how many calories it contains. Dieting for those 6 packs just got a whole lot easier.

Consumer Physics, Inc/ https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/903107259/scio-your-sixth-sense-a-pocket-molecular-sensor-fo

With over 12,000 backers and $2.7 million dollars worth of support on Kickstarter, potential seems limitless for this pocket sized flashlight. SCiO is a molecular sensor that detects and quantifies chemicals by shinning a beam of infrared onto the object you wish to characterize. Whether it’s determining which watermelon is sweeter, how much protein in is in your shake (for you gym freaks out there), or if your plants needs watering etc, this little fella will handle it for you, delivering all info to your smartphone in less than 2 seconds! 

Consumer Physics, Inc/ https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/903107259/scio-your-sixth-sense-a-pocket-molecular-sensor-fo

(Prepare to switch into full on science mode here on out!)

The working principle of this device relies on the fact that every chemical compound has what’s called a “fingerprint” region on the near infrared absorption spectrum. Like the name suggests, this is directly analogous to fingerprints of humans; they are unique to each chemical compound. This device shines infrared light on to the sample and compares the spectrum with spectrums in the existing database. If there is a match, the system will let you know what you’re scanning. If not, then it can be logged as a new substance. (Congrats you’ve probably just discovered a new fruit/ vegetable!) SCiO calls this a database of all matter.

Consumer Physics Inc has estimated that the cost of owning a SCiO will be around $USD249. Not cheap for a hardware extension to your iPhone/android capabilities, but if it does what it claims to do, then I can see this as the next big thing after iPhones. Delivery starts in December this year.

Before you decide to join the queue of eager tech fanatics for a SCiO though, there are several things you need to think about. What people scan on a daily basis is almost never a pure substance and therefore the fingerprint region of a specific compound is almost never seen. This problem is very much like if a detective is trying to isolate a single suspect’s fingerprint from a lift button that has been pressed by so many others. The fingerprints becomes smeared on top of each other. Although the SCiO developers claim to have a special algorithm that effectively separates the spectrums, it still remains an unproven technique. Any chemist (as well as this one), will also tell you that infrared spectroscopy is inherently a weak experimental technique, so purchase if you must, but purchase with caution!

Featured image extracted from the Consumer Physics, Inc. Kickstarter page at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/903107259/scio-your-sixth-sense-a-pocket-molecular-sensor-fo

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