Kickstarter of the Week: Public Lab DIY Spectrometry
Open-source kit helps analyze materials and contaminants.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: September 5th, 2012
f you've never heard of spectrometry, prepare to be intrigued. A spectrometer is a tool that scientists use to identify unknown materials—think oil spill residue in waterways, dyes in soaps, or other chemicals. A cool concept, but very expensive and difficult to use, so Jeffrey Yoo Warren and Public Lab created one that costs just $35.
He created a hardware kit that has a range of more than 400-900 nanometers with a resolution as high as three nanometers. The way the tool works is by measuting the colors absorbed by a material, and with his kit, you use a piece of a DV-R, black paper, a VHS box, and an HD USB webcam.
Public Lab community members have used the tool along with open-source software to analyze, compare, and share spectral data, and there's even software that turns your cellphone into a spectrometer. Members have identified dyes in "free and clear" laundry detergent, analyzed wines, and more.
They describe the product as being a sort of "Shazam for materials," likening the software and tool to the music-identifying app. Their campaign has 30 days left to go, and have already earned three times their goal for fundraising.