Pocket spectrometer is the Star Trek tricorder you always wanted

Contributed by
Jul 22, 2015, 5:41 PM EDT

In Star Trek, when the captain and crew beamed down to a planet, Science Officer Spock whipped out a tricorder to assess the planet’s atmosphere, detect radiation and measure atmospheric pressure. Now the bulky tricorder of our future is about to become a thing of the past. Enter the palm-sized SCiO.

The small device can determine the molecular fingerprint of an object (see video, below). According to Inhabitant, “Equipped with some of the capabilities of large, heavy laboratory spectrometers, but built around the kind of optics used in cell phone cameras, the SCiO measures the light reflected off any given object, breaks down its spectrum, and then sends that information to the cloud… [T]he results show up on your cell phone within 5 seconds on a 3G connection. 

Better yet, it provides practical, actionable information about the object. For example, wave the SCiO over your produce and learn which fruits are sweeter. Scan your smoothie to determine calorie count.

Best of all, learn which labels are total bovine manure. If your bottle says “calcium tablets,” your spectrometer should tell you whether you’re about to about to ingest talcum powder.

SCiO won’t be available until December 2015, when it will cost $249. But if you preorder, your updates will be free for the next two years.

Not only did Star Trek have a scientific tricorder (plus a suspiciously similar-looking general tricorder for notetaking), it also had a medical tricorder, with an additional salt-shaker scanner. The medical tricorder is being developed now, thanks to the up-and-running Qualcomm Tricorder X-Prize. The team that builds a medical tricorder can win $10 million—along with the knowledge that they’ve gone where no medical device has gone before.

(Via Inhabitant)