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Technical Q&A

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How Does SCiO Work?
Technical Questions

How controlled does the environment need to be for SCiO to correctly identify materials? 
SCiO has the potential to identify many different materials. Naturally, SCiO’s measurement is effected by the environment. Nevertheless, SCiO, by design, has both hardware and software features that compensate and correct for environmental effects. Thus, most ambient light conditions will have negligible effect on the results, as well as reasonable angle of incidence variation, distance from the sample, temperature, etc.
What other variables need to be controlled by the user? 
The user is advised to hold the SCiO within a distance of 5-15mm from the sample in most cases (in some cases the user will be advised otherwise). In addition, the individual is advised to use an accessory case for small samples (e.g. pills). The user should avoid direct sunlight hitting the sample when measuring.  Finally, sample temperature should be within application specifications to get accurate results.
Does natural lighting (like sunlight) affect the measurement?  
SCiO is designed to compensate for almost any ambient illumination conditions, including sunlight, except for the case where the sunlight is directly illuminating the sample. In such case, the user should shade the sample or use our shading accessory.
FAQs indicate that SCiO “typically detects materials in concentrations of 1 percent or higher. And that concentration levels of 0.1 percent or less may also be feasible for some materials, however this is rare. The exact specifications depend on the application and material being analyzed.” How do these error rates impact SCiO’s potential?
SCiO’s current performance is good enough to support many applications that are of interest for many users. From estimating macronutrients in food items, to detecting counterfeit medication, assisting law enforcement, analyzing the human body and many more.
As the company continues to develop SCiO, they will provide yet even higher sensitivity. For example, today, Consumer Physics can estimate sugar concentration in sugar solution with an error rate of 0.4 percent. However, the company has experimental results showing 100 ppm level of detection for impurities in water.
As Consumer Physics moves forward, they will strengthen algorithms, physical models, hardware performance and reference data accuracy, all further supporting SCiO as an even more sensitive analyzer.
What is the variation if SCiO takes a measurement twice?
Generally speaking, assuming the conditions are kept constant, the variation between measurements will be well below 0.01% (for the relevant spectral data).
What is the absolute accuracy of SCiO for a common substance, such as alcohol, that is in another liquid at a few percent level (like beer or wine)?
The current threshold for identification of alcohol in water is about 0.4 percent, which is dependent upon the appropriate use of SCiO and the data used to create the model.
If I wanted to identify one brand of pills from among a number of general unknown pills of the same color and size, what is the false positive rate for SCiO?
If the ingredients in the other pills are different enough, Consumer Physics has found this rate to be very low. Confusion between one brand and other pills of different substances so far has been negligible.
In detecting generics from formulary drugs, many manufacturers use different types of non-active materials, so SCiO can differentiate based on those non-active materials.
The company can tell different drugs used to treat similar ailments apart. For example, they can differentiate between aspirin and ibuprofen.
Can SCiO tell the percentages of different fabrics in a typical piece of clothing? Can it tell the difference between cotton, nylon, rayon, and orlon? 
Consumer Physics believes eventually SCiO will be able to differentiate between different textiles. The current version has yet to demonstrate that capability, and the exact performance will be application-specific.
If the cloth were dyed, what effect would that have on the accuracy?
In the general case of dyes, many contain elements that have spectral signature in the SCiO wavelength range. When a model is properly being made, this should be considered as part of the model.
SCiO’s case is designed to be used for calibration. How does that work, and how often does it need to be calibrated? 
The current and latest version of SCiO (v1.1) does not require any calibration by the user (excluding unusual cases). The application may require the user to calibrate once at first use (or every once in a long while), just to make sure everything is okay. The case is currently used mainly for protection.
In the first version of SCiO (v1.0), the device was set to be calibrated every 10 or more scans. This was somewhat redundant in many operational conditions, but the company recommended it for the utmost accuracy. Again, SCiO v1.1 does not require user calibration. Future generations of SCiO will not require such frequent calibrations, but for the first generation the company preferred to be cautious and ensure the product functions optimally.
For additional FAQs on SCiO, visit