When it comes to organic food, most of us rely on labels and packaging to correctly describe what it is we’re buying. But how do we know that the apples we’re forking out extra cash for are actually lacking in pesticides or that those expensive eggs are really cage-free?
Since taste alone often doesn’t cut it, a stylish, new device for the iPhone called Lapka is promising to take out the guesswork. Billed as a “personal environment monitor,” Lapka’s sensors connect through the iPhone’s headphone jack and gather information about humidity and temperature, radiation levels, electromagnetic frequency (EMF) and organicity, which supposedly reveals “organic” food’s true nature.
When it comes to the question of whether or not a given item is really organic, the device uses a steel probe to check for quantities of nitrates—compounds frequently used in non-organic fertilizers.
To display the results of each test, Lapka shares the collected information with users in two different ways. First, the device lets a user know only if there is any reason for concern, since raw numbers often provide little meaning on their own. Lapka also displays test results by visualizing them abstractly, creating an environmental snapshot of sorts.
“For example, you can measure radiation on the plane and a little bit higher level will be okay, because app knows that you won’t stay there for 24 hours and that higher radiation is common for the planes,” Lapka’s Creative Director, Vadik Marmeladov, tells Co.Design. “But with the same level of radiation in your kid’s bedroom, it will alarm you and give you explanation to motivate your further actions. So, people don’t have to rely on their knowledge about radiation anymore to protect their family and themselves.”
Right now, Lapka is still in the prototype stage, but the product’s developers are hoping for mass production in the near future. The system of sensors will run for about $220.