Android Spectroscopy

I was jealous when I saw Joel write about his boss using his iPhone’s light source for experiments (finally, a really useful science iphone app). I knew I had to one-up him for no other reason then I am a Google Android user. Below is a video of an app I made; the app will scroll through the visible spectrum. In the video the glass contains red wine.

During the video you can see the wine absorbing blue light when the camera pans over the glass for the first time. Next time it pans over the red wine the light is green and still not transparent, but as the light was turning yellow the solution became more transparent. By the end, the light was red and it transmitted through the wine just fine.

If I had an other Android phone on hand I probably could have made a quick and dirty visible spectrometer.



  1. Dang, that’s really cool! Too bad I couldn’t view the video on my iPhone 🙂

    if I was smarter and had a little capital to invest, I would so be starting a company around smartphone lab tools. How cool would it be to have a lab-on-chip that you could plug into Android from the field, and upload the data? (insert obligatory Twitter joke here)

    Any chemistry-loving electrical engineers out there want to take that idea and run with it?

  2. I have made a free Android app that may interest you.

    LEARNLIGHT: Visible Light Analysis, on the Android Market

    This app is for use in conjunction with a white LED and a diffraction grating, which results in a band of colored light across the visible spectrum. LearnLight performs an analysis of the red, blue, and green intensity of any 2 images, then graphs the results. Example images are included in case you are not ready to build your own spectrometer!

    Features in LearnLight version 1 are:

    1. Import photos taken on the Android camera, or downloaded from email from any digital camera.
    2. Crop, name, save images
    3. Select any 2 images to compare
    4. Set spectrum width and blue/red endpoints
    5. Plot intensity of both sample and reference
    6. Plot only reference intensity
    7. Plot only sample intensity
    8. Plot transmittance
    9. Plot absorbance
    10. Capture and save Screenshots of any plot
    11. email spectrum images or screenshots
    12. email csv files for Excel (or other capable program)

  3. Henri van de Vorst says:


    My name is Henry van de Vorst and I live in Beneden Leeuwen (Holland). I’ve been looking for an app that I want to use in a study of the color code. I obviously do not know if I can submit such a question simply because it is actually not a business question. It’s purely private but with a worldwide following. If this question I ask you is in the wrong place then I urge you to please show me the way to the most suitable contractor for this type of private issues.
    Below is an explanation.

    I want to use the camera in my Samsung or a camera connected to my notebook to make a “photo” of a stamp with only one color -> Red in many variants. The app makes an analysis of the color of the stamp and then the screen will display the RGB code of the red shade. Also the app looks in its database to the description of the shade of red that example that is closest to the RGB code found like carmine, pink or scarlet.
    With a push of a button, the scan RGB code and description of the color stored in a database xls.

    The RGB code of red is always 256 000 000. By adding more white, black, blue or yellow, are many variations in the color red. Carmine has code 155, 000, 024. The King George V 1d red stamp of Australia was printed from 1914 to 1918. The printers have, for various reasons, different percentages white, black, yellow or blue added. This makes a great variation in color groups arise.
    This one stamp is widely studied by a large group of collectors, including the color red works very magical. This 1d red stamp is decribed in a lot of documentation and there are several special catalogs. To this it can be deduced that the group of collectors has increased which justifies an investment in time and money to develop such an app.

    If my question still has some interest in you excited may I refer you to Omroep Gelderland. This broadcast is aired on Saturday, March 14th Gelderse Koppen. From minute 22 to 27, you can see me with my stamps. This way you’ll know what I mean and who I am.

    Should you wish to receive more information than I am willing to send pictures of the red shades and English documentation.

    With best regards,
    Henri Frost

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