Sensordrone adds more sensory capabilities to smartphones
June 21, 2012
Those who value having a myriad of information on the world around them right at their fingertips may have something extra to add to their Christmas or birthday wish list. Sensordrone, a Kickstarter project that has managed to triple its initial funding goal of US$25,000, packs a dozen environmental sensors into a keychain-sized dongle, collecting highly localized data and relaying the information to any Android device via Bluetooth.
Just a few months back, a similar project – Variable Technologies' NODE – was successfully funded via Kickstarter. Sensordrone will retail at a slightly higher price, but will also come with some interesting and unique features of its own, starting from the types of sensors that are embedded in the device.
Sensordrone can measure temperature (with two separate sensors including an infrared non-contact thermometer), humidity, pressure, proximity, illumination and color intensity. It also features three separate gas sensors, which can be used for anything from spotting gas leaks to creating an impromptu breathalyzer.
The data is fed to any Android-compatible device via Bluetooth in three different ways: you can get immediate read-outs, receive a streaming data flow of continuous readings, or store the information in a comma separated value (CSV) text file, which is ideal for creating graphs and spreadsheets.
The Sensordrone also shines in flexibility, both on the hardware and the software side of things. A digital/analog interface allows the connection of new sensors to add even more functionality. And the software will be released under an open source license, meaning developers can create entirely new apps that better integrate the data from the sensors within the user experience of the smartphone.
The sensors would cost significantly more if purchased separately, and so the developers envision their device as the building block for a distributed network of low-cost, superlocal environmental sensors. The idea is reminiscent of projects that aim to use the accelerometers embedded into laptops to serve as an early-warning system for earthquakes. Unlike those projects, however, this one would require an ad-hoc hardware platform that may still be too much on the pricey side for a highly developed network to sprout.
The Sensordrones will retail for US$199 apiece, but can be obtained at a discount from the Kickstarter project page. The video below illustrates the device at work.