When the original iPhone came along more than five years ago, it contained a set of sensors that opened up new possibilities: the proximity, ambient light and accelerometer sensors were all part of the package. The iPhone 3G added GPS, the iPhone 3GS threw in a magnetic compass, and a gyroscopic sensor debuted with the iPhone 4, enhancing the handset’s perception of how it is moved, a boon for augmented-reality games and applications.

Some Android handsets include additional sensors, namely the barometer circuitry. But what if the iPhone packed in a bunch of other sensors to monitor the world around you in even greater detail?

Enter Lapka, a Russian startup which just released its first product, a $220 iPhone dongle that adds five sensors for detecting radiation, electromagnetic fields, humidity and temperature and – watch this – a sensor that determines how organic your food is.

According to The Verge:

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.

The goal of this accessory inspired by Yves Saint Laurent and NASA is to take personal environmental life-logging to the next level. Of course, other products strive to do the same – like Jawbone’s Up bracelet or Kickstarter’s Twine – but none packs in such a comprehensive set of sensors.

Creative Director and co-founder Vadik Marmeladov likens the accessory to a talisman of sorts “which you hold to be safe”.

It’s really an accessory. It’s another pair of shoes, or another bag, or another pair of nice glasses.

And when you want to measure how organic your food is, just pierce its steel probe through raw fruits and vegetables. The sensors picks measurements of electrical conductivity “which correlates to the relative concentration of nitrate ions left behind from nitrogen-based fertilizers”.

There are various fruit and vegetable presets inside Lapka that denote different threshold for nitrate content — and tell you when you might want to be worried.

Sounds cool.

As for the humidity / temperature and electromagnetic field (EMF) sensors, you’ll want to use it to, say, measure specific guidelines for newborns about EMF and humidity.

Sleep deprived?

Use the dongle to find the spots in your home with the lowest electromagnetic pollution.

And if you’re shit scared of World War III, the radiation sensor, basically a miniaturized standard Geiger counter, should come in handy.


The Lapka owes its small size to using the iPhone’s power source and computing power.

The accessory works in conjunction with a free iOS app that measures, collects and analyzes the hidden qualities of your surroundings.

As you go about your day, the dongle continuously measures your environment and feeds data to the app. You can later check out the charts and flip through days’ worth of readings with ease.

Entries are also uploaded to the Lapka cloud and can be shared with your Facebook and Twitter friends, in addition to email and SMS. What you get is a nicely animated web page with your data.

Here’s a nice video overview by The Verge (Flash-only).

The accessory launches today and will run you $220 over at the Lapka web store. If you think the price is too high, consider that’s what a good quality humidity detector costs.

Something tells my our own Jeff Benjamin will want to get his hands on Lapka’s personal environment monitor.