World’s First Pocket Spectrometer Is Like a Real ‘Star Trek’ Tricorder

pocket spectrometer tricorder

Good news for Star Trek fans! A company has created a pocket spectrometer, which in some ways works like a tricorder — that handheld device the Enterprise crew used in almost every episode to figure out a person’s injuries, the chemical makeup of objects, and anything else that needed a plot explanation.

It’s called SCiO, and while it can’t figure out what ails you, it can measure the molecular fingerprint of just about anything. And it fits in your pocket.

“SCiO is based on the proven near-IR spectroscopy method,” writes Consumer Physics. “The physical basis for this material analysis method is that each type of molecule vibrates in its own unique way, and these vibrations interact with light to create a unique optical signature.”

The video above explains it all, but you essentially point the SCiO at an object (let’s say, an apple) and press the button. It shoots light at the apple, and the light reflected back breaks down the item’s spectrum, and then sends that information to the cloud. Consumer Physics‘ unique algorithms interprets the data and sends an analysis of that apple back to your cell phone. You’re not only learning about the things around you, but you’re also helping the company build the world’s first database of matter. You’re helping create the tricorder of the future.

“With every scan, SCiO learns more about the world around us, so we can all get smarter,” the Israel-based developers say. “Our development team has taught SCiO some exciting things, like to tell how much fat is in any salad dressing, how much sugar is in a particular piece of fruit, how pure an oil is and lots more.”

However, as we said, this isn’t a real tricorder; the device can’t detect the presence or absence of everything.

“SCiO is NOT a medical device and should NOT be relied on to protect you from allergens under any circumstances,” the company explains. “Since SCiO is designed to measure small portions of a sample or food at a time, it cannot guarantee the absence of specific molecules on your plate, or in a serving. SCiO can tell you major components of foods (i.e. with typical concentration of 1% or more), while some allergens can be hazardous even in lower concentrations.”

The device currently retails for $249 and comes with a developer kit.