Next month Lapka Electronics is set to release Lapka, its much anticipated new environmental monitoring device and app for the iPhone. Once you download the free app you can plug in one of four lead-free, PVC-free, water resistant sensors to track radiation, organic matter, EMF (electromagnetic fields) and humidity in your immediate environment (from right to left in the image above). The radiation sensor is professional grade, counting every particle and then translating that data into how it might be affecting you. The organic sensor uses a stainless steel probe to detect significant amounts of nitrates in raw foods and drinking water caused by residues or synthetic fertilizers. Try it out at your local farmers market to see if those high-priced organic peaches are really and truly organic. The EMF sensor detects the electromagnetic pollution caused by electronics, telecommunication transmitters and power lines. You might use it to locate the least electromagnetically polluted area in your home for your bed or your child's room. The last sensor for humidity compares generally accepted comfort standards with the temperature and humidity in your immediate environment. (While we don't need an app to tell us that August in New York ranks in at miserable on the comfort index, it's nice to know when our frizzy hair, shiny faces and sweat-soaked shirts are scientifically unacceptable.)
On a more practical level, we can see the app's ability to translate data into easy-to-read values (which it puts into context with global standards, averages and suggested tolerance ranges) being especially useful not just at home or in the office, but in public spaces like parks, airplanes, hospitals or your child's school. You can take environmental 'snapshots' throughout the day to create a personalized 'comfort diary' that you can share with a global community of users. If enough people get involved it means that we'll be able to view accurate, real-time environmental data from locations around the world and record and track the data to analyze changes over time. That's not only fun and helpful for the curious everyday user, but it's a potentially significant source of information for medical researchers looking at how environmental factors impact health and the regional spread of infection and disease. And if your goal is to make your home a less toxic environment, you can get precise feedback on changes you make to your space.
Lapka is expected to be available in December 2012 for $220.