Infrared spectrometers use part of the light spectrum that is invisible to the human eye. A sensor absorbs these waves and compares their patterns against a database. This tells us which molecules the waves have encountered, and therefore what the item is made of–a bit like a chemical fingerprint.
To analyze the pattern, or spectrum, the SCiO scanner is linked to a smartphone via Bluetooth. Using an app, the user states what type of item has been scanned, for example vegetable or meat. That helps the online database to find the right item from countless samples. To carry out a scan, the scanner has to be held close to the food and a blue target light is shone onto the object to be measured. The actual measurement is then carried out by the broadband infrared light generated via the phosphor converter developed by OSRAM.
The device can also check medicines and identify any that have been diluted or are counterfeit. With further development the technology could also be of interest for other application areas. Security forces could use it to instantly test suspicious substances. A sensor in the car could check the quality of the fuel being put into it. There are many ways in which the SCiO scanner with broadband infrared LED can help people to lead a better, healthier, and more sustainable life.
As Jansen puts the scanner back into its box he says: "In the future it may be possible to make the sensors small enough to fit directly into smartphones." An infrared spectrometer as small as a phone camera. It would be the next revolution.