Meet the tiny device that can tell you more than you ever wanted to know

Database of matter

While molecular scanners are used in labs around the world for quality control of oil, sewage and chemicals, they are bulky and expensive pieces of equipment.

Consumer Physics has taken the same technology and designed a device from the ground up to be mass-produced at low cost. SCiO, developed by engineers from leading institutions such as MIT and Harvard, has been tested in live demonstrations with high accuracy.

Still, Sharon believes the device has its limitations. For food, the device only scans a small nickel-sized area and penetrates a depth of a few millimeters. Proteins are the hardest to detect, followed by carbs, while fats are the easiest to scan.

SCiO typically detects materials in concentrations of 1% or higher. Concentration levels of 0.1% or less may also be feasible for some materials.The exact specifications depend on the application and material being analyzed.

Additionally, the sensor can be diverted or somewhat inaccurate by the packaging and items comprised of various different materials, like a fruit tart. You'll get different readings if you first scan the topping then the custard underneath. Transparent materials, such as clear liquids also present serious trouble when it comes to identifying molecular structures.

But in the end, Sharon says, all these materials are within SCiO's reach. The device launched with an open API, so third-party developers can extend the list of materials covered by the Consumer Physics database as well as create apps suited to specific use case.

Sharon envisions a device that will one day compile a massive collection of data to let users analyze the physical matter existing around them, thus "creating the world's first database of matter, and putting the means of discovering it in the palm and pocket of the user's hand."

The first SCiO scanner batch won't be shipped to Kickstarter backers until January next year, and it will go on sale in March 2015 for $249 (about £147, AU$266). The project set out to raise $200,000 (about £118,694, AU$213,872) in April, a goal it reached in 20 hours. As of this writing, the SCiO Kickstarter counted over $2,700,000 (about £1.6m, AU$2.8m) in backer money.

Jessica Naziri is a tech expert, online media personality and accomplished journalist covering the intersection between technology and culture. She is a self-proclaimed "chic geek," who turned her passion into a career, working as an technology reporter. You can follow her on Twitter @jessicanaziri or email her: