Everybody needs a spectrometer, right?

Maybe you’ve heard of SCiO, the tiny ‘thumbdrive’-sized spectrometer that lets you scan and analyze just about anything and, in conjunction with your smartphone and a cloud-based database, you can get instant information about the chemical make-up of that object.

The company is trying to raise funding on Kickstarter so that they can start mass producing the little devices by the end of this year at a retail price below $150. They’ve already got a lot of press from news outlets like Time, BBC, TechCrunch and others but just in case you missed it we thought we’d give them a bit more ink (well, virtual ink that is).

The SCiO is a pretty neat little gizmo (assuming that it works as advertised and I have no reason to doubt that it does at least some of the things the company claims it does). It measures a tiny 73 x 25 x 16.5mm (about 3 x 1 x .6 inches) and works with iPads, iPhones and Android devices with Bluetooth 4.0.

According to the company’s Kickstarter page, “The SCiO includes a light source that illuminates the sample and an optical sensor called a spectrometer that collects the light reflected from the sample. The spectrometer breaks down the light to its spectrum, which includes all the information required to detect the result of this interaction between the illuminated light and the molecules in the sample.

“To deliver relevant information in real time, SCiO communicates the spectrum to your smartphone app via Bluetooth, which in turn forwards it to a cloud-based service. Advanced algorithms analyze the spectrum and within seconds deliver information regarding the analyzed sample back to the smartphone to be presented in real time to the user.”

One of the other unique features of SCiO is that theoretically, as more and more users of the device scan more and more things, the cloud-based database will get smarter and smarter.

At first the SCiO will be able to recognize food, drinks, moisture levels and even medications but the company promises to add more and more categories to the database such as the ability to scan gemstones, fabrics, spices and so on.

Their page implies that the device will be able to detect when fruits are ripe, how sweet things are, how fresh something is or even nutritional value.

It seems like a pretty cool gadget that would actually get cooler with age.

You can check out their Kickstarter page here.