There may finally be a crowdfunded “tricorder” that actually works.

Last year, a device called Tellspec raised more than $386,000 on Indiegogo, claiming to be able to identify the “allergens, chemicals, nutrients, calories, and ingredients in your food” using a single hand-held scanner costing $250. A few months later, an Indiegogo campaign for GoBe, a “wearable calorie-counting device” was even more successful.

Both devices have been repeatedly accused of being fraudulent, mostly because both seemed too advanced for current technological capabilities, and were oddly hazy when it came to practical demonstrations.

The GoBe device claimed to be able to read glucose levels through the skin and calculate how many calories you consume and burn, while the Tellspec was hailed as a real-life version of Star Trek’s tricorders. But despite multiple investigations suggesting that GoBe was little more than 21st century snake oil, its Indiegogo campaign still closed at just over $1 million.

At first glance, the Kickstarter page for Consumer Physics’ SCiO device looks dangerously similar to the GoBe and Tellspec pages. Its campaign video shows people scanning everyday foodstuffs like apples and avocados to see how much sugar they contain. The overall marketing style also has much in common with the GoBe and Tellspec advertisements, combining vaguely science-y imagery (people writing equations on whiteboards and building bits of spectrometer) with footage of families happily scanning their food to see what it contains. The difference is, SCiO’s claims are far more modest.


After 3 months cruising along the Chilean coast we headed inland for the journey north into Peru. The diversity of Chile’s landscapes has proved to be a real highlight of our road trip so far. Altiplano, Chile Δ