This App Can Tell You What’s In Your Food Just By Scanning It

It's like 'Star Trek,' but, you know, for real.

You can read labels all day, but sometimes it’s kind of hard to really know what’s in that powerbar you’re about to devour after the gym. But what if you had an iPod-sized device that you could point at whatever you’re about to eat that could tell you exactly what’s really in there?

One of the new devices turning heads this week at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is ConsumerPhysics’ pocket-sized, SCiO, a molecular sensor that helps you figure out the chemical makeup of your food or drink using near-infrared spectroscopy (for the non-molecular geniuses among us, that’s the analysis of how molecules interact using light).

Remy Bonnasse told MTV News that the app he and his wife developed for the SCiO DietSensor, could work for anyone who wants to monitor their food intake, but the real audience is people with chronic health conditions like heart disease or diabetes.

“Right now we’re the only ones using [the SCiO] for this kind of food application,” Bonnasse told MTV News of the app, which currently contains a database of 600,000 food and beverage items from 50 countries in 19 languages.


Bonnasse said he and wife Astrid came up with the idea in 2014 after their 9-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which required them to monitor her carb intake at every meal while measuring her insulin levels.

The spectroscopy technology has been around for a while, but the $249 SCiO (and the $10-a-month app, which Bonnasse said should both be available by mid-2016) is the first device to bring it to the consumer level. For now it mostly works on basic foods like bread, cheese or mashed potatoes, though you can manually input data for more complex meals like pizza, lasagna or sandwiches through the app.

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