July 14, 2016

The molecular app

Economy

Smartphones have become an extension of our body and senses. Almost inseparable from our physical being, they freeze instants and fragment both time and space in billions of images, messages, post comments. They connect us to the world, placing it in our pockets. Soon they will be able to analyse and comprehend it for us too. They will provide us with the exact molecular composition of anything we touch or eat, they will tell us the right time to pick a fruit or water our plants, the calorie count of our sandwich, how much sugar in our ice-cream and the tannicity of our wine.

This is the future envisaged by Consumerphysics, an Israeli high-tech startup company that has managed to crowdfund through Kickstarter over 2.5m dollars, the largest campaign the country has ever seen. Israeli researches, according to Bloomberg, are also contemplating to turn it into a pocket-size affair. Consumerphysics is in fact betting that by 2021, their portable molecular lab will be so micro it could be easily integrated with smartphones.

The power of science, pocket-size. What in the past had the same size of a wardrobe, today boasts the dimensions of a small camera, and soon it could look more like a microchip. Housewives will no longer need to analyse fruit and veg at the market: all they will need to do is to draw the smartphone out of their pocket and choose the right melon to pair with some Parma ham, to share their choice with their friends and maybe confront it with the organoleptic standards set by the FAO. SCiO is the name of this micro-lab able to detect in real time with its special micro spectrometer the molecules that make up both organic and inorganic objects.

It will certainly reach every pocket when it will eventually be integrated with smartphones, inexorably changing the way we would normally consume and purchase goods. And maybe even marketing strategies. Food consumption, choice of materials – from textiles to cement, from plastic toys to foam – will become more conscious processes. Those suffering from allergic reactions will finally be able to stop worrying, health-conscious individuals will be happier: companies should start preparing for the change. Without a doubt, we won’t be able to do without it.

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