Sensordrone really does make your phone a tricoder

Sensordrone is a sensor-filled wireless dongle for use with a smart phone or other computer-like device. But perhaps this is better explained as the thing that makes your smart phone work exactly as the original Star Trek tricorders did. In one had you have the main unit that displays data, in the other you hold the sensor array which you can wave in front of things to take a reading.

This is really just a Bluetooth module, battery, a handful of sensors, and a breakout header all packaged in a nice case. But seeing it used in the video after the break does make us a little giddy. That breakout header gives you the option of connecting the Sensordrone to RS-232 or I2C devices. The first demonstration is a thermal printer being sent a print job from an Android phone. But the dongle isn’t just a pass-through. It comes with a range of sensors (those three windows in the case) for gas sensing, temperature, humidity, pressure, color sensing, and perhaps a few others.


  1. JB says:

    Cool. Add some LEDs and a pattern that spins around in the sensor unit:D

  2. Eirinn says:

    So basically it’s a transmitter/reciever with sensors hooked up to it. I do like the lego mindstorm approach though.

  3. Zee says:

    This is very cool but I miss the point of the color sensor. I already have a color sensor on my phone: the camera.

  4. Boudico says:

    Perhaps it’s a calibrated device for the printer specifically (the color sensor).

  5. ugoteed says:

    I can see having a separated smaller sensor unit could be advantageous. That way you can keep the screen some place comfortable and wave the sensors around for different readings.

    I do agree a camera would be useful as a color sensor. So lets a dd a camera to the sensor stick!

  6. sandiegofoodreviews says:
  7. A real tricoRder!

  8. Chris says:

    The case appears to be a USB “A” male connector without any molding over it.

  9. alxy says:

    > The Sensordrone was designed by engineers from Buffalo & Toronto. Electronics assembly is being done in Detroit & Rochester, molded parts in Cleveland, and sensor components, final assembly and testing done at Sensorcon in Buffalo.

    So what will the cost-to-consumer be? Chinese are excellent at making tech goods at bare-bottom prices, amazingly quickly too. If this idea really takes off the chinese will copy and undercut as usual, driving any US-based manufacturer into chapter 11 in short order.

    • charles says:

      Maybe. There is a reason why Chinese parts are so cheap you can order two for the price of one. It’s their failure rate.

    • charles says:

      So I went through all their material. To me a calibrated (Important!!!) barometric pressure sensor and IR thermometer that has a significant range and can go up past 900 degrees, with real time output, logging, and notification software is well worth 100 bucks. The rest is gravy.

      Anyone have any hard data on it’s barometric accuracy, thermal limits and IR sensor range?

  10. Halloween_Harry says:

    sounds like the only thing it doesnt do is make those cool TOS sounds.

  11. Rob says:

    Dear Gene,

    Looks like you called it correctly, again. Thank you, sir, for continuing to inspire and inform the design & development of technology. I’d wish that you could still be here to see it, but then you knew it was coming (eventually) and that was what mattered.

  12. Miros2424 says:

    It all looks FAKE. Kickstarter backers BEWARE!
    I somehow doubt that they will deliver.

    • Dra says:

      What about it looks fake to you?

      • Miros2424 says:

        Everyting is fake. Color leds flashing do not make it a sensor filled gadget. Why don’t you just say that it is non working prototype (like a clay filled prototype car). I know that you want to show everybody how it is supposed to work but it is just making them dream in color. I hate people who take advantage of other people stupidity or wishful thinking. I won’t even ask you guys to show the insides of this fake, I’ll let you dream in colors.

  13. GotNoTime says:

    Neat idea. Bit expensive for me but this and similar devices will be something to keep an eye on in the future.

    The actual sensordrone device is thicker than you might initially assume. You don’t really see it in the photos or videos but the spec PDF shows it as ~0.5 inches thick. I thought at first that it was around 5mm or so and did wonder how they managed to fit a battery and that many other sensors in there.

  14. twdarkflame says:

    If anyone is interested I made (very silly) video a few months back comparing a modern phone to a tricorder:

    Frankly its utterly amazing what even a standard phone can do.
    Its just a shame the “Tricorder” Android software has been pulled for very dubious legal reasons.

    • Phil says:

      Hardly “dubious” reasons. CBS currently owns the legal rights to “Star Trek” and had the legal right to request the removal of the Tricorder app from the Google Play Store.

      The Tricorder app was a wonderful homage to “Star Trek” and certainly not made for profit. That means nothing in legal terms. It clearly used the “LCARS” graphics and sounds from the original series, so the copyright owner has every right to complain.

      How would you feel if somebody stole your work? You might be flattered by the attention, but it’s still being done without your permission.

      It may have been a stupid thing for CBS to do but the bottom line is, it’s their legal right.


      What I would suggest is if somebody came up with an “Android sensor display suite” app which used a generic interface, but had the capabilities to accept different skins and sound files. That would be perfectly legal (and a very useful app too).

      Then others could independently develop the LCARS skins as independent works and make them available as public domain files through other download sites (not Google Play). That way the app is not violating any copyright laws.

      I am an author who has worked with and within the copyright laws for most of my life. However, IANAL, do not use for legal advice.

    • demiserv says:

      ummm…..i know of a place to get that tricorder app….still one of my favs :D

  15. mr spock says:


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