Smartphones can be used for a lot these days, from providing entertainment thanks to apps, games, movies, tv, and books, to being used for more practical things like making shopping lists or updating the inventory for your small business. Thanks to a collection of sensors being embedded in newer models people can even use their smartphones to track things like steps taken, calories burned, and monitor their heart rate, helping users to reach an overall better level of health. One thing that smartphones really can't do is help people avoid getting food poisoning, although that could be changing in the near future as a number of startups are working on technology to help users scan their foods for contaminants.
Companies like SCiO have been working on and developed pocket-friendly molecular scanners which could be used to verify the type of foods we eat, letting us know important information like nutritional facts and perhaps one day the chemical makeup of contaminated food that causes food-borne illnesses. All of that depends on apps and analytical data being developed to work with this little sensor, but with the scanners already on the market for around $250, all that's needed are a collective of apps that can be installed on smartphones and sync up to the scanner to pull the data and visualize it for users. The price also doesn't warrant this as being something that the mass consumer market is likely to pick up, but that can be said for all new technology. What's also interesting is that the4 sensor inside the SCiO is said to be rather small and could have the potential of being incorporated inside of smartphones and other mobile devices alongside the types of sensors we already see inside of these devices.
Another scanner priced at about the same cost of $250 comes from a company called 6SensorLabs, called the Nima, and could be used by people who have Celiac's disease to scan their food for small levels of gluten prior to eating, helping them prevent what could be a more serious matter if they become ill due to mistakenly eating something that has gluten inside of it. For now, it's likely still a long ways off before any of this technology becomes more mainstream, but it's an interesting prospect to observe that people might someday be able to scan things at a molecular level with something no bigger than a smartphone.