A molecular spectrometer may sound like something from a science fiction movie, but in reality, it’s a real piece of handheld technology that you can buy.

The device, named Scio,  has been developed by the company Consumer Physics, the first company to develop a handheld, publicly accessible molecular spectrometer. And if you think that the name sounds sci-fi, wait till you hear what this thing does. A molecular spectrometer reads the molecular structure of an object (food, a pill, a plant etc) and provides a breakdown of what the object is made of. I’m pretty sure they use something exactly like that in Return of the Jedi….

Until Scio, molecular spectrometers were used exclusively by high-level scientists. But now, the technology is available to everyone, because Scio is the size of your palm, and syncs with your iPhone. How does it work? You scan the object you want information about, and a list of its chemical ingredients appears on your phone screen. Every time someone scans something, it is added to the Scio register, so everyone is contributing to growing its memory – this thing learns too! The company responsible for Scio identify the four main things you can do with their product on their website, and these are:

> Get nutritional facts about different kinds of food: Dairy products, fruits and vegetables. Other apps for drinks, meats, ripeness, salad dressing and more will be released on a regular basis as our database expands.
> Know the well-being of popular plants.
> Identify capsules containing medicine and nutritional supplements.
> Help build the world’s first database of matter.

If you think that a readout of chemicals in a product would be useless information to you because you don’t know much about chemicals, you would be wrong. The Scio iPhone app will also provide detailed information on each chemical that structures the product, so you can learn about exactly what is going into your body. In an age when people are more concerned than ever with what they consume and the potentially harmful things they put in their bodies, Scio is of huge relevance, and dare I say, a necessary and revolutionary invention.

The item is currently only available for pre-order, to be shipped in February 2017. The best bit is that it will only set you back $249!