Public Lab Research note

Mobile (Android) version of Spectral Workbench

by warren |

Read more:

I just finished the first draft of this today -- it's a basic version of the Spectral Workbench spectrometer client software which simply runs in a web browser -- on an Android phone. It only works in the Opera browser (the only mobile browser which has implemented the MediaStream API).

The link: (it works in a regular browser too, as long as it's Google Chrome :-P )

More soon, but I took this spectrum by strapping a small spectrometer made of black paper and a slice of DVD-R to the back of my Android phone:

Smartphone spectrometer

The data:

Files Size Uploaded
plots-spectrometer.skp 151 KB 2012-06-18 18:41:47 +0000

spectrometer android my-concern



This is a pretty nice idea. I can't tell if that's your phone cover or just the back of your phone, but you could make a nice, easily removable phone spectrometer by building it around a phone cover.

3d-printed open source spectrometer attachment for cellphones

I ordered a 3d-printed spectrometer attachment on (it'll be about $14 or so when done) and will report back in a week or two when it arrives. I'll open source the design and we can adapt it (in Sketchup) for different phones and cameras, and people can print precise copies on Shapeways.

This seems like an interesting new way to develop open hardware designs... and if we find an "optimal" design we can try to get the part manufactured in bulk for very cheap.

One more thing -- the cost of 3d printing is pretty high as the spectrometer gets longer -- i think it needs to be longer because the phone cam can't focus on things that are too close to the lens -- but I was thinking we could adapt the design to just be a lens cover and an end cap, and the long tube could be sourced from something else easily found -- a standard PVC tube or something, which we could cut to varying lengths.

Attaching the sketchup file in a sec...

very interesting dev (for my Samsung Galaxy S2 !)... did you remove the IR filter on your phone (and how have you done)

I will try certainly to build one... after a frist try with a bog one: a webcam in a VHS video box ;)

I tried to remove the filter from a Nexus One, but it turned out it was just a protective glass piece. I'll probably give it another try but I've heard the filter may be bonded to the sensor. It may be the kind of thing where to get NIR, you'll have to use the desktop version.

it would be best to use a prism and a tube like the zoom lenses you see for phones ....

it would split the light cleanly

and make a high quality model

the best part is it would be sellable to schools

sensible cheap and quality

(c) RS

Very cool, I hope you will release it as an STL file on

There is a bunch of 3D printers out there.

It's actually already on there, in an early form:

can someone please send me step by step instructions on how to make a spectrometer for my HTC EVO 3D (Android)

Hello all, I have been playing around with a cellphone spectrometer design in sketchup. The rest of the album is available here. The design should work with iPhone as well as android phones. I know Warren's sketch and other designs show it open toward the top but it will make the base extend beyond the top on iPhone cameras. This will work with different degree diffraction gratings.

Hey buzzy - we'll be posting some instructions soon, check out the early design diagrams here for the papercraft version:

MFarmer, that's a really nice design! I think we could probably afford to do a 2-part mold. We should try doing a printable version soon and get someone with a RepRap or other 3d printer to try it out.

MFarmer - would you be willing to post a new research note about your design, with the additional photos and the sketchup model? I'd love to start tagging design sketches so we can refine a really nice open source design before we start manufacturing.

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

On my Android with Opera Browser, when I got to, it asks me to download a file named “capture”. Then nothing happens. The webpage doesn’t load and the file doesn’t do anything to my knowledge. Someone wanna shine some light on this situation?

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

Hi, garlicmustard - I'm sorry for the trouble, it seems the new version of Opera has this odd behavior. We're tracking it here and hope to have progress soon:

very interesting!!!

I just uploaded a new and improved version:

Mfarmer, Your design is beautiful! Do you plan to share the 3D model?

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

Wow, brad, that looks great. With the paper ones, we've been making the upper and left edges rest against the side of the phone (for an iPhone). Maybe we could make a modified baseplate for the iPhone for people who want that. Have you taken images through it?

Indeed, Mfarmer, your design looks great. I'd also love to see a model!

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

Warren, that it an easy modification. I have access to an iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, and a 4S so I should be able to whip up mounting plates for those pretty easily.

I have taken a couple spectra with it but unfortunately my Android tablet is not playing very well with Spectral Workbench. Here is one I took of the CFL bulb in my desk lamp with my iPhone 4 and processed with the engine. It is very overexposed so the peaks are muddy but a little fiddling with the camera settings or using my DSLR would give much better results. In fact, that gives me an idea. I have already made a microscope adapter for my DSLR so it should be really easy to make a spectrometer adapter. Now I know what I'm doing this weekend.


Hello,I am a student, I am interested in your Mobile (Android) version of Spectral Workbench, I hope I can communicate with you. Would you mind sharing your code about your Mobile (Android) version of Spectral Workbench with me? This is my email Thanks for your reply.

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

Fantastic work. This is a seriously cool project. I'm going to fiddle with my design for a telescope eyepiece phone mount . It's in two pieces (a phone case and a short barrel to slide over the eyepiece) that fit together with 2 formed pins. It may not be such a stretch to design the spectrometer tube to fit to the existing case.

Very cool, adamlamee! Eager to hear more.

Mingo: we can use all the help we can get, esp. with native iOS development.

I've checked it on android (Sony Xperia S) and the page can't capture anything. Tried in all available browsers (Opera mobile/mini, Mozilla, Chrome, chrome beta, webkit, Dolphin). Is this service still up?

Btw, great project. It would be great to have native applications for various operating systems (linux, windows, android, ios).

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

Hi there,

Just wondering if this would allow you to conduct basic test on levels of metal in food specimens?

Thank you so much!

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

The mobile interface is one of our Google Summer of Code ideas this year; we're hoping someone will take some ownership of it and really polish it up, get it working in more browsers:

Perfect illustration thanks for this useful and informative share. logo design

Someone necessarily lend a hand to make severely posts I'd state. This is the first time I frequented your website page and to this point? I amazed with the analysis you made to create this actual put up extraordinary. Excellent job!

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

You must be logged in to comment.