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The Pocket-Size SCiO Could Tell You If Your Drugs Are Pure

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Jan 9, 2017, 3:00 PM   by Rich Brome   @rbrome

At CES, Consumer Physics is demonstrating its SCiO molecular scanner. It's a lightweight Bluetooth accessory the size of a lighter that uses near-infrared spectroscopy to determine the exact molecular makeup of items it's pointed at. The company has an active network of developers creating a variety of apps that work with the device to address different use cases. Available apps include personal nutrition tools and commercial pill verification. However some third-party developers are working on apps that could use the device to determine the purity of illicit drugs such as MDMA (Ecstasy).

IEEE Spectrum »

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The device is simple and lightweight, includes a carrying case, and charges via a micro-USB connector. It communicates with any Android or iOS phone using Bluetooth LE.

The Changhong H2 is a smartphone currently available in China that has the SCiO technology built right in.

We tried several demos, including a test of the sweetness of a strawberry, and detection of a fake Viagra pill. It was very simple to use and worked quickly, taking just a couple of seconds to measure and report results.

A number of developers working in harm reduction are working on apps to detect the purity of street drugs. Harm reduction is a movement in the medical community to help people who can't or won't stop using illicit drugs.

It's not difficult to imagine an ecstasy user using an SCiO to test the purity of the drug. Ecstasy is often laced with impurities or drugs other than MDMA.

Other developers are exploring the possibility of using SCiO to evaluate the purity of herion and meth. These drugs make the news all too often when a "bad batch" goes around, sometimes with deadly results.

The device costs $300. An app-development kit that includes a device runs $500.

About the author, Rich Brome:

Editor in Chief Rich became fascinated with cell phones in 1999, creating mobile web sites for phones with tiny black-and-white displays and obsessing over new phone models. Realizing a need for better info about phones, he started Phone Scoop in 2001, and has been helming the site ever since. Rich has spent two decades researching and covering every detail of the phone industry, traveling the world to tour factories, interview CEOs, and get every last spec and photo Phone Scoop readers have come to expect. As an industry veteran, Rich is a respected voice on phone technology of the past, present, and future.

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Comments

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thebriang

Jan 11, 2017, 12:44 PM

Meh...

its not a real NIR spectrometer, it can only "detect" things that have previously been loaded into its database of "scans". Looks like many people are getting awful results with it, so it may get better in time for commonly scanned items, but I don't really need it to tell me an apple is an apple.
What good is a pill detector that can only identify a pill that has already been detected previously? What if its a mixture of drugs, like in a powder? Or a substance they havent loaded into the database?

Meh.
I think it is "a real NIR spectrometer", but otherwise you are correct about its limitations.

Still, if you create an app trained to know what pure/perfect MDMA or heroin looks like, it should be able to tell you if that's what you have, or if you...
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Me

Jan 10, 2017, 1:36 PM

Great Idea

Hope this will work with legal RX meds as well.
Indeed:

We tried several demos, including a test of the sweetness of a strawberry, and detection of a fake Viagra pill. It was very simple to use and worked quickly, taking just a couple of seconds to measure and report results.<
...
(continues)
 
 
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