OSA Honors Consumer Physics’ SCiO, World’s First Molecular Sensor that Fits in the Palm of Your Hand, with Enabled by Optics Award

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Optics of Fingerprint Sensors, by a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign team, wins Student Video Contest

WASHINGTON –With a miniaturized scanning sensor technology, Israel-based Consumer Physics earned this year’s top corporate honor in The Optical Society’s (OSA) Enabled by Optics Contest. This contest raises public awareness of the importance of optics and photonics technologies in furthering innovation and positively impacting society. It offers both a corporate and student competition, bringing pioneering optical technologies to light.

This year’s corporate contest winner, Consumer Physics, produces SCiO, a product that takes near-infrared spectroscopy and shrinks the system behind it from room-sized equipment to a hand-held sensor that integrates with smart phones. This molecular sensor then fits in the palm of your hand, offering insights on everything from what’s in your lunch to what pills you’re taking.

Imagine, for example, using SCiO to can scan an apple and upload its nutritional information into a tracking app. You wouldn’t be estimating based on the average apple; you would know the exact nutrition you received in that very one. How much better could you manage your health, knowing exactly what you’re putting in your body?

“It’s remarkable what Consumer Physics has done,” said Dr. Gregory Quarles, chief scientist, The Optical Society. “By finding a way to condense a full scanning system, spectroscopy applications increase exponentially. As materials are scanned and identified and the spectral image is recorded and stored, the use cases for this technology grow. It’s what’s exciting about optics: the possibility transcends the technology of today, providing solutions for tomorrow.”

Building what Consumer Physics refers to as the world’s first database of matter, SCiO relies on a history of scans, or spectral images, stored in the cloud, to identify individual substances. The spectrometer scans images and reads the chemical make-up of materials, searches the database for a match and delivers the data to an app on a smart phone.

“We built a platform to allow both consumers and businesses to analyze materials,” said Dror Sharon, CEO, Consumer Physics. “Businesses will develop molecular sensing models in fields such as food, pharmaceutical, agriculture, manufacturing and more for their internal or commercial use. Consumers will be able to explore more materials and build mini applications for their personal use, sharing it with the broader community.”

Consumer Physics offers a developer toolkit and encourages technologists and business leaders to consider the impact SCiO could make. Already apps are appearing, incorporating SCiO into their platforms to evaluate materials (see, for example, DietSensor).

In addition to nutrition, SCiO already scans different pharmaceuticals and can name them according to chemical make-up, helping to protect against counterfeit products. And winemakers are looking at SCiO as a way to test the fermentation levels and alcohol content in their wines. Consumer Physics envisions SCiO expanding to provide support in fields as diverse as healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, automotive services, and beyond.

“SCiO is a core technology,” said Sharon. “What we do with that core is limitless. I see a bright future for SCiO—all enabled by optics—and we thank OSA for recognizing its potential and honoring us with the award.”

OSA also hosts an Enabled by Optics student competition to encourage those studying optics and photonics to explain the science to a broader community. In a video format, students take apart any product that has an optical component, and demonstrate how optics makes the product work.

This year’s student winner dives into biometric technology and explains The Optics of Fingerprint Sensors, including their role in identity protection. Created by a team of students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA, including Courtney Krafczyk, Rebecca Holmes, Michelle Victora, Jia Jun Wong, and Sheldon Scot Schlie, the award-winning video clarifies how optics identifies the distinguishing ridges and valleys in a person’s fingerprint. The team will receive a $1,000 U.S. cash prize, in addition to broad promotion of their submission.

OSA will recognize this year’s corporate and student winners at the plenary keynote session of the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO), 05-10 June, 2016, in San Jose, California, USA. In addition, Consumer Physics will delve into SCiO via a panel demonstration during the conference on Wednesday, 8 June. Conference registration information is available at cleoconference.org.

Sponsored by PennWell Corporation, additional details on the Enabled by Optics Contest, including information on corporate and student finalists, are available on the OSA website.

About OSA

Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and entrepreneurs who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit osa.org/100.

The Optical Society
Rebecca B. Andersen, +1 202-416-1443
Joshua Miller, +1 202-416-1435