WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Being able to analyse the chemical composition of products, particularly counterfeit ones, has long been something you could only do in a lab, now the lab’s in the palm of your hand.
Smartphones already do a lot of things, in fact, it’s likely that if they were human they’d be forming a union and going on strike. But now, thanks to Chinese company Changhon Electric Co they have a new party trick – they can tell us what things are made of using an in built molecular sensor.
First demonstrated at 2015’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), in Las Vegas, the Android Changhong H2, backed by $2.3 million in crowdfunding and the result of a partnership between Sichuan based Changhong, Analog Devices Inc (ADI) and Consumer Physics Inc., is back. And this time it’s smarter than ever.
The H2 is essentially a miniature spectroscope embedded into a smartphone format that works by shining near-infrared light onto materials. This excites their molecules and the H2 analyses the light that’s reflected off of them, reads their unique optical signature and determines the chemical composition of the material.
Changhon say that the H2 works with almost every material and before you think the products boring, or worse in truth it has some interesting use case, but while Changhon suggest using it to figure out the chemical composition of the food you’re eating, or using it to detect how ripe your fruit and veg is – something that could be useful if combined with a fitness and diet tracker, such as Fitbit, for example. It’s killer application though might be helping authorities and individuals detecting counterfeit products, anything from clothes and drugs, to fake food and medicines, something that is a growing global problem that rakes in over $600Bn a year for organised crime groups who then use the money to fund anything from human trafficking to murder.
However, if you just want to know the chemical composition of Sulphuric Acid without consulting a text book, now you can. Needless to say, though, the sky’s the limit once third parties start producing apps.
The H2 will be available to buy in China in the first half of 2017, with a US introduction expected for later in the year and pricing has yet to be announced.