Recently, miniaturization of Raman, mid-infrared (MIR) and near infrared (NIR) spectrometers has made substantial progress, and marketing companies predict this segment of instrumentation will have a significant growth rate within the next few years. This increase will launch vibrational spectroscopy into a new era of quality control by in-the-field and on-site analysis.

While the weight of the majority of handheld Raman and MIR spectrometers is still in the ∼1 kg range, the miniaturization of NIR spectrometers has advanced down to the ∼100 g level, and developments are under way to integrate them into mobile phones.

Thus, based on high-volume manufacturability and significant reduction of costs, numerous companies target primarily with NIR instruments a non-expert user community for consumer applications. Especially from this last-mentioned development, a tremendous potential for everyday life can be expected ranging from food testing to detection of fraud and adulteration in a broad area of materials (pharmaceuticals, textiles, polymers, etc.).

However, contrary to the exaggerated claims of many direct-to-consumer companies that advertise their “scanners of the future” by oversimplifying the measurements to “point-and-shoot” procedures with any deficiencies in sample presentation and sample heterogeneity being taken care of by “cloud evaluation of big data”, this presentation will provide an overview on the realistic application potential of these instruments by discussing in detail selected, realistic industrial and every-day-life applications.