Power Pitch

SCiO aims to be your sixth sense

Scio aims to be your sixth sense
Scio aims to be your sixth sense

Imagine walking down the grocery aisle, holding a small laser gadget and scanning an apple to see how much sugar it contains, how many calories it has, or even if it's ripe. It may sound like science fiction—but one start-up has created the app that makes it a reality. And the founders believe its potential is enormous.

"SCiO is the first molecular sensor that fits in the palm of your hand. It scans the molecular fingerprints of materials and sends instant relevant information to your smartphone," said Dror Sharon, co-founder of Consumer Physics, which is behind the SCiO.

Sharon had 60 seconds to make his pitch and convince a panel of experts, and you, his company has what it takes to become the next big thing. The panel included Clara Sieg, partner with Revolution Ventures, Stephanie Palmeri, principal at SoftTech VC and Mark Siegel, a managing director at Menlo Ventures. CNBC anchor Mandy Drury was the host.

Will the panel be intrigued? Watch the video to find out!

Pocket-sized molecular scanner

Users can scan foods, like this apple, and nutritional information will be sent to their smartphone.
Source: Erin Barry | CNBC

Consumer Physics is a Tel Aviv, Israel-based start-up that has created the pocket-sized device SCiO that packs your smartphone with a technology once only found in labs and factories. It's called near-infrared spectroscopy, which measures molecular interaction with light, and by placing it in the hands of smartphone users the start-up believes it can change how we interact with the world around us.

"Our mission is to help people better understand the world around them and to encourage our community to help map the physical world," Sharon told CNBC.

How it works

Once an item is scanned, the device transmits the molecular information to a cloud database where it's analyzed and identified, then in real time it transmits that analysis back to the smartphone user.

The device will initially come with apps developed by Consumer Physics that will measure food, plants and medicine, but Sharon sees the potential for many more apps. "We actually recruited 1,000 developers through the Kickstarter campaign."

Palmeri was skeptical. "While it satisfies the curiosity of the world around me, I'm not convinced that you have that killer use case that's going to take this from your early adopter market, and Kickstarter, to something that is mainstream."

However, Sharon says he believes this is just the beginning. "Through these 1,000 developers, we can find apps that we, frankly, didn't even think about," Sharon told CNBC. "Spectroscopy, the technology, has been used in health care for many, many years and we feel there might be potential killer apps there as well. [We want to] take it to the consumer."

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During the Kickstarter campaign which closed in June, the product was priced at $149 and the company raised more than $2 million with nearly 13,000 backers. It is now being sold on the Consumer Physics' website for $249 and has an expected shipping date of March 2015. The company also has several patents pending.

"The way it sells right now should have substantial gross margins over 50 percent, we hope ... this is the first time we actually mass produced this. We'll actually know by the end of the year," Sharon said.

The company was founded in April 2011 and has 25 full-time employees. According to the website, the team includes data scientists and algorithm experts, as well as members with degrees in applied physics, food technology and nutrition from research institutes like MIT, Stanford and Harvard to name a few.

In addition to the Kickstarter campaign, it has raised more than $10 million from investors Khosla Ventures, OurCrowd and Dov Moran.

During the Power Pitch, viewers were asked to vote whether they were IN or Out on SCiO, and 67% were IN. Watch the video to see if the Power Pitch panel agrees!

—By CNBC's Erin Barry

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