Thanks to the smartphone camera industry, a tremendous amount of time and money had already been devoted to miniaturizing optics technology. Sharon and Goldring figured they could apply those great technological strides to making a miniature spectrometer, no different from the technology being used in scientific labs around the world. “We both jumped out of nice jobs. We had kids that were several months old, and we said this is what we’re going to do and got started,” Sharon remembers.
The two founders gathered a team of physicists, engineers, data scientists, food technologists, optical design specialists, and others. They took a lean startup approach to prototyping, rapidly shipping new prototypes and killing off old features. The final product, which will begin shipping to Kickstarter backers later this year, works by shining a light on an object at a very specific wavelength. That causes the molecules to vibrate, and the light that’s reflected carries that object’s molecular signature. The Scio app then uses an algorithm to compare that signature to its entire database and provide the end user with the object’s molecular breakdown.
The first Kickstarter backers will be able to analyze plants, foods, and medication using the Scio app, but Sharon is hoping that’s just the beginning. The company has created its own Application Development Kit, and Sharon is looking forward to seeing what comes out of it. He also says that in the not too distant future, people who want access to this type of technology may not even need to own a Scio. “I’m absolutely positive something like this will be built into smartphones, wearables, and internet connected devices,” he says.