We're Stratio, Inc., a start-up founded by four Stanford electrical engineering PhDs. We're based in San Jose, CA and Seoul, South Korea - plus an additional office in France. For the past two years, we've been hunkered down in our offices, thinking of ways to make spectroscopy more accessible. We're happy to announce that something awesome is on the way: LinkSquare Software Development Kit (SDK). LinkSquare is a portable spectrometer, carefully designed by yours truly, and it comes with software to collect your own spectral data.
We want spectroscopy enthusiasts, developers, researchers, science-types, and tech-savvy curiosity seekers to use LinkSquare to explore anything and everything under the sun. With some know-how, you can analyze your data or create custom applications to do things like authenticate gemstones, distinguish regular and diet sodas, or match colors for home improvement projects. Join our Kickstarter community of early adopters and help us shape the future of spectroscopy!
Like all spectrometers, LinkSquare uses light to tell us more than what our eyes alone can see. It shines a bright light on objects and collects data on how they respond to different wavelengths. You can think of the data as a "spectral fingerprint" - much like human fingerprints, spectral fingerprints are unique and can be used for object identification or analysis. We can't take any credit for discovering the principles behind spectroscopy (RIP, Isaac Newton), but we are humbled to be standing on the shoulders of giants.
When you think of a spectrometer, you might conjure an image of a large, boxy device with a price tag in the thousands of dollars. That's the first image that popped into our heads, too - and it didn't make us very happy. We set out to change that by creating the opposite: a portable device priced for accessibility. To bring spectroscopy to you, we had to make big things small, complicated things simple, and expensive things cheaper. Take a peek inside!
There's a lot to like about LinkSquare, but if we had to pick our favorite feature, it's that LinkSquare collects data from both the visible and near infrared portions of the light spectrum. That means it can give you data on both color and molecular composition; other accessible spectrometers only provide one or the other. We love having more data, and we figured you would, too, so we designed a unique optical system with that in mind.
LinkSquare SDK comes with one LinkSquare spectrometer and the software needed to collect spectral data. You can visualize the data you collect with the data collection tool, or you can export it to third party software for further analysis or application development. Since you're the one driving this metaphorical spectroscopy car, we want you to have the flexibility to steer it as you please. That's why the data you collect with LinkSquare is yours alone - we don't own it, see it, or require any interaction with a server.
Here are the software tools we'll provide:
- Data collection tool (Windows, with macOS coming soon)
- LinkSquare API (Windows/macOS/iOS, with Android OS coming soon)
- Example code
- An iOS app for use with LinkSquare SDK's sample color chips
LinkSquare SDK is adjustable to different skill and interest levels.
If you want to keep it simple, you can use the SDK to overlay different spectral graphs for visual comparison. Check out this quick video of the SDK collecting data on bell peppers as an example.
Here's what you'll get:
And here's the nitty-gritty:
The LinkSquare journey began with some glue and a foam board box. After two years of research, iteration, and trial-and-error, it is ready to emerge as the sleek, intuitive device we always knew it could be.
As you can see above, we started with a basic foam board mock-up with a Raspberry Pi and a camera module (far left). From there, we shrank the optical components and built a small PCB to make our first working prototype (mid-left); it gathered spectral data, but we saw room for improvement. The third iteration of the device (mid-right) featured a new shape that was more intuitive, but there were still a few internal and external tweaks that we wanted to make, bringing us to the pointy-tipped LinkSquare (far right). There are still some small changes to implement, but we are close to the final version that we plan to ship to you.
Most developers will agree that each successful prototype of any major project is a point of pride. Much like proud parents, we've taken videos of past versions of LinkSquare to share with you. They feature the prototypes with smartphone apps that we made for internal testing and demonstrations.
Above: A version of LinkSquare from the distant past (aka 2015) collecting color data.
Above: This previous iteration of LinkSquare (now extinct) came with a cap. We used it to do some of our first food identification experiments.
Above: The most recent version of LinkSquare identifying different beans, grains, and produce.
Stratio has great engineers who made the apps in the demo videos, and they want to show you how they did it. We hope you find the video inspiring, but please note that the SDK does not come with access to Stratio's machine learning servers.
Stratio was founded in 2013 by four Stanford Electrical Engineering PhDs. We are passionate about bringing innovative, accessible optics products to new users. Co-founders Jae Hyung Lee, Yeul Na, Youngsik Kim, and Wooshik Jung have worked in conjunction with our optics expert, Juhyung Kang, to develop LinkSquare. We also have a team of talented software engineers behind the project.
We're happy to say that LinkSquare already has a few early fans. With the support of the US National Science Foundation (NSF), we showed an enterprise-focused version of LinkSquare at the 2016 and 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. At the 2017 show, LinkSquare was selected for the Tech Crunch Hardware Battlefield and was a top 4 finalist in the competition.
Since we got started, we've also had the privilege of being in several publications and participating in incubators around the globe.
We've spent years thinking and talking about LinkSquare. Some of our friends and partners might even say that we've thought and talked about LinkSquare a little too much. But we can't help being so excited! With LinkSquare, we can bring spectroscopy to a host of individuals, institutions, and enterprises that have never been able to access it before. Whether it's detecting counterfeit drugs, checking the health of plants, or enhancing a science lesson, we know LinkSquare can do great things. However, handheld spectrometers aren't exactly mainstream - yet! That's why we want to get our feet wet first with LinkSquare SDK and gather feedback on the hardware and software from people like you. Join our community of early adopters and help us shape the future of some pretty cool technology.
Journey to LinkSquare SDK:
- Excited about LinkSquare SDK? We bet you have friends who will be, too! Click the "Share this project" button at the top and let them know.
- Live outside the U.S. or South Korea but still want LinkSquare SDK? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Risks and challenges
As it turns out, there's a lot of truth behind the cliché that hardware is hard. Based on our experience so far, here are some thoughts on potential trouble spots and how we are addressing them:
1. Many hardware Kickstarters run into challenges fulfilling backer rewards because the demand for the reward was much higher than anticipated. This seems like a great "problem", but it can quickly result in real, actual problems. For this reason, we are limiting the number of LinkSquare SDK backer rewards to 500. We have worked closely with our manufacturing partner to understand production capacity and feel that 500 is the limit for this initial step into accessible spectroscopy.
2. Some hardware projects fall behind due to certification issues. We have already selected a company to certify the hardware and are on track to have necessary certifications in hand prior to the current estimated shipping date.
3. Projects also struggle when creators try to move the product from smaller production settings, like a personal workshop or university facility, to a larger manufacturer. Making design adjustments to suit different equipment or streamlining assembly steps is harder than it looks. We went through much of this process with our manufacturing partner when we produced earlier prototype batches and are finalizing plans for a larger batch.
4. Issues can also arise related to sourcing the materials needed to complete the project. LinkSquare SDK does not include any rare or difficult-to-source components, and we already have established relationships with suppliers.
Of course, unforeseen issues are always a possibility. We are dedicated to approaching challenges with an eye towards both expedient resolution and product integrity. We want to send you something useful and amazing, and we'll keep you informed along the way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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