It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but an Israeli start-up has launched a mini-scanner that tells you exactly what’s in your food and more.
Consumer Physics has built a pocket gadget that uses light to analyse the chemical makeup of any substance you point it at. Not only does it show what's in your food but also drinks, medication and everyday items.
The pocket device, called the SciO, doesn't need physical contact with an object. Instead, a beam of near-infrared light is bounced off the surface, and can be used to determine properties like moisture, fat and sugar content. The data is then fed back to the user via a smartphone app.
It is "the first molecular sensor that fits in the palm of your hand," says Dror Sharon, co-founder of Consumer Physics.
By examining, for example, the sugar content of a tomato on the supermarket shelf, the system can determine how ripe it is. It could also tell you how much booze is in your JD and coke or even if that jacket really is made of leather.
The device was Kickstarted earlier in the year - gathering an impressive $2.8 million from a target of just $200,000 – and Sharon says its success shows that there's widespread fascination with science.
"There is interest from small developers that want to develop something cool for themselves or for their kids, or even teenagers that want to develop this, up to multinationals and large companies," he said. "There are people that work in industry that on a daily basis look at stuff and say, 'Is it really the quality that I ordered?'"
Consumer Physics envisions a day where smartphones will have SCiO built-in, but we can think of plenty of other tech advances that are ahead in the queue.