Scanner identifying food’s calorie, ingredient count honored by world body

World Economic Forum lauds Israel’s Consumer Physics as company whose technology will change the world

What's really in that cheese? SCIO knows (Courtesy)
What's really in that cheese? SCIO knows (Courtesy)

The Israeli company that developed the world’s first device that can scan products and provide a list of ingredients, components, materials, calories, nutrition data and other important information about food, pharmaceuticals, plants, and more, is one of the top 49 tech companies in the world, according to the World Economic Forum. Consumer Physics, makers of the SCiO pocket molecular sensor, is one of the WEF’s “technology pioneers,” a group of early-stage tech firms around the world that are “poised to have a significant impact on business and society,” according to the group.

“We’re glad to see an Israeli company make it to the selection,” said Fulvia Montresor, Head of Technology Pioneers at the World Economic Forum. “Consumer Physics is part of a group of entrepreneurs who are more aware of the crucial challenges of the world around them, and who are determined to do their part to solve those challenges with their company.”

According to many who have seen it in action, the SCIO device reminds them of the “tricorder” – the device from the Star Trek TV show that the crew of the USS Enterprise used to figure out what the fascinating things they found on alien worlds consisted of. Heralded by scientists, researchers, journalists and now the WEF – the SCIO device is seen as a major tech development, a boon for anyone interested in gauging whether the food they are eating or the medications they are taking are effective

The device uses near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy to scan physical materials for their molecular fingerprint, discovering the specific components of a piece of fruit, a hamburger, a pill, and, eventually, anything else, depending on what apps are developed on the platform. Once the molecular components are detected, the data is uploaded to a user’s smartphone, from where it is transmitted to the SCIO database. The database then provides information about the materials, and the product – vitamins, calories, product recalls, active ingredients in over-the-counter pills, and more.

With that, the company stresses that the SCIO is not a medical device. “SCiO typically detects materials in concentrations of 1% or higher. Concentration levels of 0.1 percent or less may also be feasible for some materials, however this is rare. The exact specifications depend on the application and material being analyzed,” and as a result, the company says, “SCiO is not a medical device and should not be relied on to protect you from allergens under any circumstances,” as there are many allergens that may be present and can cause damage at levels of less than 1 percent.

Consumer Physics was chosen as one of the “top 49” by a professional jury from among hundreds of candidates, the WEF said. As a result, the company will be invited to the WEFs “Summer Davos” in Dalian, China this September, or its annual meeting in Davos next January. Companies from the US and UK accounted for 80 percent of the winners.

“We are proud to see one of our portfolio companies named to the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers,” said Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures and an early investor in the company. “We expect SCiO and future Consumer Physics products to have significant impact on industries such as food, pharma, and healthcare – touching the lives of consumers across the globe.”

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