Sometimes iPhone accessories have a very definite, utilitarian use…and sometimes they stray much more into the “Well why not, right?” category. The Lapka sensor array definitely falls into the latter category, but that doesn’t stop it from being super cool. It’s an indie hardware project made by a tiny startup, and it’s basically a series of small instruments that plug into your iPhone, allowing you to measure all sorts of environmental conditions that an iPhone wouldn’t normally be able to measure.
The whole package will cost you $220, and gets you four little white plastic and wood cubes. The first is a Geiger counter, which will allow you to measure radiation in the air wherever you are. The second is a temperature and humidity sensor, intended to tell you the conditions of the room you’re in and determine whether it’s going to be comfy to work or sleep in.
The third little box is an electromagnetic frequency detector; it will show you all the various electromagnetic waves in the area, from your microwave to the power lines above your house. Finally – and perhaps most interestingly – the fourth sensor is designed to tell you how organic your food is. It works by measuring the conductivity of your fruit or veggies, which allows it to determine the nitrogen level of your produce – an indicator of how much nitrate-heavy fertilizer was used in its production
All of these sensors are tied together with a simple, well-designed iOS app that shows you in easy to read terms how healthy and/or safe the measurements you’re getting are. There’s hard data in here too if you’re a scientist, but they’ve done a great job of making it accessible to the layman. It also stores all your measurements in the cloud, and provides an intuitive interface for seeing all your data from a period of weeks or months.
The Verge just did a pretty extensive hands-on with the Lapka, and it’s well worth checking out if this sort of thing piques your interest. They’ve got a video of the app in action, as well as an interview with one of the Russian inventors of the product. It’s unclear at this point whether such a product can be commercially successful, and there’s also some doubt about the scientific legitimacy of the organic food sensor, but it’s a neat gadget nonetheless. Even when they’re not strictly must-own tools, hardware startup projects like this are always cool to see.