“It’s hard to find someone who’d say ‘I’d love to measure radiation’ on a day-to-day basis,” says Marmeladov, but that’s exactly what he intends to convince you of. Each sensor is molded from wood and injection-molded plastic, and looks like it would fit better on the shelf of an Apple Store than in your high school’s science lab. In fact, each sensor plugs into your iPhone’s headphone jack as if it were a Square card reader.
Like Verge editor Ben Popper, Marmeladov discovered that feeling and measuring the invisible things around you can be strange and enlightening. The pack of sensors is about environmental life-logging and keeping a journal of the invisible fields you inhabit every day. Lapka is also about finding the joy in building something cool nobody has tried before. Marmeladov, dressed from head to toe in black and donning a modern mohawk, states proudly: “Our goal is to mix Yves Saint Laurent and NASA together.”
The Lapka system is a series of really pretty-looking white and wooden blocks that let you measure certain invisible aspects of your environment and visualize them through a mobile app by plugging them in to the headphone jack of an iPhone. By December they plan to offer the blocks for sale as individual pieces, or as a set, giving people the ability to measure four key aspects of the environment.
According to their website the blocks will detect:
Radiation– “it will reveal highly accurate information about radioactivity near you and explain in detail if and how it might be affecting you”
Organic– “designed to look for significant quantities of nitrates in raw foods and drinking water in order to detect residues of synthetic fertilizers”
EMF– “detects electromagnetic fields which can be caused by electronic hardware, telecommunication transmitters, or power lines around”
Humidity– “combines both the temperature and the humidity level of your environment to help you find the perfect comfort level”
It will be interesting to see how the app interface slices and presents the data to provide meaningful information. We also wonder if visualizing and quantifying invisible environmental factors like EMF and radioactivity will make people more concerned about changes in their surroundings or more involved in environmental activism. Lapka coupled with a service like If This Then That could also allow for interesting sets of triggers (public twitter alerts, targeted emails or even appliance controls) based on changes in measured data.