A New Smartphone Can Tell You Just How Skinny You Are

If you’ve seen an episode of Star Trek, any of them, you know that they have the ability to point their gadgets at something and collect a giant pile of scientific data. This is, of course, science fiction, or rather it was, because now that’s happening ahead of schedule with a new Chinese smartphone.

The SCiO has been around for a while, and it’s a breakthrough in of itself; it’s the world’s first handheld molecular sensor. It’s fairly simple; it fires an infrared pulse at the target and measures the molecular fingerprint that bounces back. It has to be “taught” how to read what it scans, but over time, it can, say, spot the ripest apple or sort drugs from each other instantly. That said, it’s a $300 accessory for your phone, so the market is limited to schools, nerds, and the produce-obsessed.

However, Chinese smartphone market Changhong paid the Consumer Physics team to shrink it down into a phone, and the result is a phone that can scan pretty much anything and offer you data about it. It’s not yet very precise: The Verge, testing it out, found that it was better spotting extremes like the sweetest strawberry than it was at finding middle ranges.

But that’s something that can be solved by getting this into more hands and getting people scanning stuff. Leaving aside the convenience aspect like spotting food ready to eat, this technology has all sorts of uses. Anybody in elder care knows that pills can look a little too similar to each other, for example, and this would let you figure out which is which with a simple zap. You could spot counterfeit money by pointing and clicking, see just what materials your clothes use, see what wood your furniture is really made out of, and a whole host of applications that boggle the mind. Or you could just point it at things and seriously intone the results like Spock, which is what we admit we’ll probably be doing when this arrives in China and likely later this year in the US.

(via The Verge)