LabStrip: Now your iPhone is your personal mobile lab
LabStrip: Now your iPhone is your personal mobile lab
LabStrip transforms your iPhone into your personal mobile laboratory. Testing, interpretation, & decision-making are now in the Cloud!
LabStrip transforms your iPhone into your personal mobile laboratory. Testing, interpretation, & decision-making are now in the Cloud! Read more
iPhone 5 Support for LabStrip & First Sci-Fi Sensor
Labstrip/Anywhere Science Cloud Demo
Evolution of a Design
Our goal when we started this project roughly one year ago was to automate the interpretation of chemical test strips using the power of today's smartphones. Our LabStrip Meter design began simply as an idea made real through Lego blocks. Those early models helped us figure out the basic meter geometries and critical design inputs. It became clear that it was critical to control the light source when imaging the strip, so we moved to an enclosed box and augmented the iPhone's flash. The design then moved to hand-made models of foamboard and plastic. We then solicited the help of the professionals at Speck Design of Palo Alto, CA who are well known for their iOS device accessory designs. They came up with an elegant core industrial design. Source One Product Development of Murrieta, CA then translated Speck's industrial model into a design capable of taking LabStrip Meter to large-scale manufacturing. We hope that you will help us write the next chapter in LabStrip's evolution.
We knew that we would need both an app and Cloud system to collect the data and implement our mathematical algorithm used to turn photos into measured values for the strip tests. During the development of the meter, we showed that the best performance for strip measurements was obtained when we physically calibrated each lot of strips using actual samples of known value in lieu of simply using the color charts supplied with the strips. This made linking the calibration we do in our facility with each user's phone a necessity for the system. A basic mobile application that linked the data collected from the LabStrip Meter to our back-end Cloud made the most sense. The LabStrip Mobile app and Anywhere Science Cloud with associated web portal co-evolved with the development of the meter.
We also realized that we could take advantage of the ability of the iPhone 4S to communicate with low-powered wireless sensors. This offered us the chance to pull more frequent measurements from BLE sensors (such as wireless thermometers) and load that data to an Anywhere Science Cloud account along with LabStrip measurements. On the output side, we successfully demonstrated sending and displaying our data to BLE-enabled wristwatches (such as the MetaWatch.) We are eager to work with developers who want to integrate their wireless sensors into our ecosystem.
...that's really cool, now what can I do with it? Below are just a few of the myriad potential uses of the system:
Use Case 1: Pool & Spa Care
Use your LabStrip Meter to measure the chemical health of your pool and/or spa. The test strip values (pH, free chlorine, alkalinity, and stabilizer) are automatically interpreted and stored in your Anywhere Science Cloud account. If you need to make adjustments to your chemicals, our software can tell you how much of each chemical to add to bring your water back to healthy levels. Using just the right amount of these chemicals is healthier for you, your family, and the environment. You can also set up "triggers" from within your Cloud account to send out SMS messages, social media alerts, emails, or notes to your BLE-enabled MetaWatch when measurements reach a threshold that you define. Automatically alert your friends when conditions are just right for a pool party at your place!
Use Case 2: Science Education Without Walls
LabStrip allows students and teachers the opportunity to take their laboratories out of the four walls of the classroom and into the real world to make measurements. In the hypothetical example above, students measure the pH of rainwater locally. Data can be shared in the Anywhere Science Cloud such that all students participating in the study can make use of each other's measurements. Such data could then be combined with other useful information from the Internet based on time, date, and location to provide a very rich database. Students could then hypothesize on the origin of the differences in neutral vs. acidic vs. basic rain observations based on geographic and environmental considerations. This is one simple example to highlight the power of the LabStrip approach to enrich science education through measurement and collaboration. We are eager to see what other experiments students and teachers are able to imagine to take full use of LabStrip's capabilities.
Use Case 3: Monitored Fish are Healthy Fish
LabStrip is a convenient way to keep track of the health of your aquarium or fish-stocked pond. At delivery of the Kickstarter rewards, you will be able to measure several of the chemical parameters which indicate a healthy environment for your fish (pH, chlorine, and alkalinity). Your data is stored automatically in the Anywhere Science Cloud along with any notes and/or observations you wish to make (such as tank cleaning, filter changes, or chemical additions). We can also offer guidance to put your measurements in perspective and suggest what you should do next based on those data. Many fishtank owners simply wait until the tank gets visibly fouled before acting. LabStrip can help you identify the invisible early signs of water contamination that can threaten the health of your fish.
LabStrip is a Flexible Platform
LabStrip converts your iPhone 4 or 4S into a powerful, yet affordable, mobile laboratory. Using industry-leading test strips, LabStrip allows your iPhone to behave as a multi-test chemical sensor plugged into the Cloud. While we are initially taking advantage of commercially-available tests and panels of tests, the story does not end here. We are working with our strip manufacturers to create custom tests and panels of tests tailored to the customers' needs. Here is a list of available tests offered by our preferred strip suppliers that could be combined to create an almost infinite variety of new potential offerings:
LabStrip currently has both the Pool & Spa and Broad-Range pH products ready for the launch of the LabStrip meter. However, there is a long list of market niches that we intend to penetrate including testing for: beer brewing, wine making, soil, water quality, and sanitation monitoring.
Customization is always an option. If you have specific testing needs beyond our expressed product plans, please contact us. If we find a durable market for your specific need, we will consider adding it to our product development pipeline. Or, if you prefer to self-develop, choose one of our API rewards options and we can help you develop your own customized product. We have created specific developer rewards to help better facilitate your custom project.
Anywhere Science Cloud (more than just a data locker)
We developed Anywhere Science Cloud to serve as the online repository for data, calibration files, decision-making algorithms, and various online services. We realized early that without a strong Cloud component, the system would never reach its full potential. Using date, time, and location, we can easily associate your measurements with myriad other metadata from the Internet. For instance, your data collected in the field can be linked with appropriate location-based environmental temperature, relative humidity, wind speed/direction, barometric pressure, etc.
Our web-based portal allows you to access your data (or the data of others within your shared network) from any computer or web-enabled mobile device. You can also annotate your data and add files such as notes, documents, voice memos, photos and videos. Use the portal to order products and manage your account.
Our decision-making components in Anywhere Science Cloud allow us to help you make sense of your data. Even more importantly, we can suggest what to do next. Part of the reason many people choose to pay someone else to take care of their pools, spas, aquariums, ponds, gardens, etc. is because they don’t know what to do with the testing data. We take the guesswork out, giving you specific instructions on what to do. Now the power is in your hands, on your phone, and in the Cloud on your private account.
Triggers are powerful tools to make your data dynamic and alive. Triggers are conditions that you can specify from your Anywhere Science Cloud account around the values of certain measures that trigger online events. Once tripped, these triggers can automatically send SMS messages, email notifications, Tweet results, or update Facebook. Triggers can also push data to various other users in the field collaborating on common testing projects (such as multiple pool testing associates working for the same pool maintenance company).
Sci-Fi Sensors (Developers)
Labstrip Meter and Anywhere Science Cloud seamlessly integrate with Ant+, Bluetooth, or XBee wireless sensors along with our specific chemical test strips. Together with our API, these tools create a powerful ecosystem for point measures with LabStrip as well as continuous measurements offered by wireless sensors. In addition, we can port results to display on Bluetooth 4.0-enabled wristwatches like the MetaWatch. This is particularly useful if coordination of testing is important for your work.
We are currently not offering any specific Sci-Fi sensors with our rewards. However, we are actively engaging with third party sensor companies who are interested in plugging their technologies into our ecosystem. If you are a developer interested in integrating your sensor into our system, please choose one of our Developer Rewards and/or contact us to discuss your project.
Watch for future Kickstarter campaigns around specific Sci-Fi sensors.
Why Do We Have a Meter?
LabStrip Meter ensures that each iPhone gives consistent interpretation of the test strip under investigation. We augment the native optics of the iPhone in order to yield highly consistent results, strip-to-strip, sample-to-sample, and meter-to-meter. Sure there are apps out there that attempt to interpret test strips by simply analyzing photos that the user takes of them regardless of ambient light conditions. However, they rely heavily on trying to correct for ambient light, or worse, they make no corrections at all. We eliminate this problem by controlling the light source used to investigate the strip and by building a control system that largely removes other large sources of measurement error.
Why Do We Calibrate Strips at Our Factory?
One big reason…so you don’t have to! We calibrate every new lot of test strips with samples of known value on our own inhouse LabStrip meters. Simply link your iPhone to this calibration by scanning the QR code provided with the labeling on each new box of strips. The app then links your iPhone to the proper calibration for your particular test strip lot. In addition, the app keeps track of your strip inventory and can remind you when you start to run low, or you can set it up to automatically reorder more. This kind of physical calibration is difficult, time-consuming, and more expensive compared to other alternatives. However, we choose this approach to ensure the highest possible data quality and to remove much of the lot-to-lot variability.
It Takes an Integrated System
The analytical performance we are able to achieve with LabStrip is not attributable to any one facet of the design, rather, it is the aggregate of a system. It starts with a meter that can assure consistency in strip imaging regardless of ambient light conditions. The precision of the system is credited to the consistency in test strip manufacture and we have established supply agreements with the makers of these industry-leading test strips. Lot-specific calibration with actual samples of known value increases accuracy and reduces the chance for lot-to-lot bias. Finally, we have created a mathematical algorithm that makes optimal use of each calibration curve.
We have completed the following milestones toward commercialization of LabStrip:
- Working LabStrip prototypes – DONE!
- Working mobile app –DONE!
- Working Cloud system (Anywhere Science Cloud) – DONE!
- Operational web portal – DONE!
- Sci-Fi sensor system integration demonstrated – DONE!
- End-to-end feasibility demonstrated – DONE!
- Supply agreements in place with strip suppliers - DONE!
Planned Use of Funds
We plan to use Kickstarter proceeds to take LabStrip to market. To do this, we still need to:
- Complete pre-mold engineering
- Create steel injection molds
- Manufacture first production runs of LabStrip Meters
- Amass our go-to-market inventory of calibrated strips
- Purchase packaging and other ancillary kit components
We thank you for your support in our efforts to put LabStrip in your hands!
Risks and challenges
Risk/Challenge 1: Timelines can slip.
We have waited until very late in our development process to reach out to the Kickstarter community. We have a working prototype and now need to translate that to manufactured scale. Our colleagues at Source One Product Development have given us what we think are fair and reasonable timelines to get production units ready. We think we have a good understanding for how long it will take to calibrate and release our first lots of strips. However, there can always be unexpected delays. If we encounter delays that appear critical path to launch, we shall communicate with our supporters.
Risk/Challenge 2: What if your project costs you significantly more than you expected?
Again, we waited until late in our development before reaching out to the Kickstarter community. This reduces the likelihood that we will encounter a surprise that will cause the cost of the project to significantly exceed the amount that we are asking. In the unlikely event that this happens, we have access to additional sources of (high interest) capital to make sure that we keep our commitments.
Risk/Challenge 3: What if a strip supplier radically changes their terms before you deliver LabStrip?
We have purposefully engaged with the leading manufacturers for both our Broad-Range pH strips and our Pool & Spa test strips. We have been clear with these companies what our intentions are and what our volume requirements are anticipated to be. However, in the unlikely event that we find need to switch test strip vendors, there are competitors with comparable strips which we could engage at that point.
What qualifies you to overcome the possible challenges you might face?
Brian Noland, Ph.D. and Cas Hoefman both come from a background in product development. Brian has products on the market in the diagnostics space and Cas has products in the market in software and online services. They both understand their respective areas of expertise and what it takes to get products to market. While Cas and Brian both lack specific first-hand expertise in the area of injection molded plastic manufacturing, they have engaged with the professionals at Source One Product Development who have decades of experience in this area.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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