News & Views

Changhong & Consumer Physics / Under the Microscope

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our intelligence tool featuring the most creative and effective ideas in marketing from around the world

Chinese mobile brand integrates startup’s molecular scanner to let people determine the chemical make-up of different products

We first reported about Consumer Physics – the Israeli startup that wants to empower people with a better understanding of their physical world – back in 2014. The company’s first product, SCiO, is a USB-like handheld molecular sensor that can determine the chemical compounds of any material by simply scanning it.

Now, the startup has teamed up with Chinese mobile manufacturer Changhong to embed its sensor into the brand’s latest H2 smartphone. To incorporate the technology into the H2, the SCiO sensor has been shrunk to the size of the phone’s camera lens.

To determine the molecular make-up of different products, people have to open the app and specify the thing they are scanning (for example, apples or strawberries). After using spectrometry to shine a near-infrared light on objects scanned by the app, the phone sends the information to a cloud database which analyses the material in a matter of seconds, and feeds it back to the app.

Users can scan food to determine, for example, water levels, carbohydrates or calories. The SCiO functionality can also verify the authenticity of drugs. What’s more, if people choose to scan themselves, they will get information about their body mass index (BMI).

The Changhong H2 debuted at the 2017 CES in Las Vegas and is scheduled to go on sale in China in June for the reported price of $435.


Contagious Insight / 

Scalability power / Although the SCiO molecular scanner has been around for a few years, it has, until now, existed as a standalone device which people had to carry around. Embedding the sensor into a smartphone puts this technology into the pockets of millions of potential customers. Think about it as similar to the boom in activity tracking, thanks to the introduction of Apple’s Health Kit. ‘Your average consumer isn’t going to learn about pairing a wristband or managing a dozen different apps. But he or she might use the software that comes standard on their iPhone,’ said Malay Gandhi, a managing partner at the venture capital firm Rock Health to The Verge.

So, while people might not necessarily search for a molecular scanner, the fact that it is embedded into the H2 might become a point of difference in favour of the mobile manufacturer when people are changing their phone.

Usage potential / Even though at the moment the SCiO app can be used mainly to determine the properties of foods, liquids, medication and body metrics, the potential uses of the molecular scanner go much further than that. In an official statement Jin Li, President, Sichuan Changhong Electronics Holding Group, said the company will work with third party developers who build their own applications for the Changhong H2 smartphone, enhancing the potential use cases for the scanner.



This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our intelligence tool featuring the most creative and effective ideas in marketing from around the world. I/O helps anyone in the world of marketing understand why brands are innovating, how they're doing it and with what success.

Learn more about Contagious I/O