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Molecular-sensing smartphone analyzes the world around us

Our smartphones already do a lot of things … they access the internet, take photos, guide us to destinations, play music, and even make phone calls. The just-announced Changhong H2, however, does something that none of the others can. According to its makers, it's able to tell us what things are made of.

Unveiled at CES, the Android-powered H2 is the result of a partnership between Sichuan Changhong Electric Co, Analog Devices Inc (ADI) and Consumer Physics, Inc.

The latter of the three created the SCiO Pocket Molecular Sensor, in 2014. Essentially a miniature spectroscope, it works by shining near-infrared light on materials, exciting their molecules in the process. By analyzing the light that's reflected off those vibrating molecules, it's reportedly possible to identify them by their unique optical signature, and thus determine the chemical composition of the material.

That technology has been further miniaturized, and built into the H2. Although it's claimed to work on almost any material, some of the suggested initial uses include checking the nutrient values of foods, the ripeness of fresh produce, or the authenticity of medications. Needless to say, though, the sky's the limit once third parties start producing apps.

Little information is currently available in the way of specs on the phone itself, although a Changhong rep tells us that it's 8.9 mm thick, increasing to 10.2 mm in the sensing module area. Some of its other features include a fingerprint reader, 16-MP camera, 6-inch HD screen, aluminum body, and a 2.0GHz/8-core CPU.

It will be rolled out in China in the first half of 2017, with a US introduction expected for later in the year. Pricing has yet to be announced.

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