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An Israeli inventor has created a scanner that he says could change the way we shop and take care of ourselves—by reading the chemical makeup of foods, drugs and other items we use.
The tiny gadget is still limited to a few key applications. But creator Dror Sharon envisions a machine that will compile a massive collection of data that will allow users to analyze the physical matter that exists around them.
His gadget, called the SCiO, is an infrared spectrometer the size of a thumb drive. It is being marketed for three applications—food, pharmaceuticals and horticulture, or the health of plants. Simply by pointing and clicking a miniature digital wand, users can see how many calories are in a piece of cheese or determine when a tomato will reach peak ripeness.
These features may seem more fun than life-changing at this point. But ultimately, advocates say, the SCiO could have life-saving uses, such as identifying contaminated foods or determining whether a drug is counterfeit.