CES is an event filled with plastic, metal, and germs, so one tends to take notice when a booth is festooned with wood and apples. Such was the case when we stumbled upon Russian hardware startup Lapka and its array of cute blocks. The Lapka is a strangely beautiful product, and that peculiar sense of wonderment only grows once you figure out what the thing actually does.
Creative Director Vadik Marmeladov refers to the string of devices as a “personal environment monitor” — what starts off as a 3×4 grid of plastic and wood-trimmed cubes soon splits apart to reveal distinct Geiger counter, EMF detector, temperature/humidity sensor modules, as well as a small tool to determine if the fruits and vegetables you’re eating are really organic.
No, really. According to Marmadelov, the concept is actually deceptively simple — the smallest sensor has a metal probe extended from its bottom, and all one has to do is stick it into their food. From there the Lapka module measures the amount of nitrates (commonly found in commercial fertilizers) and alerts you when the nitrates present exceed a certain level.
Of course, this handsomely designed sensor array only measures the environment they’re placed in — they rely on an iOS device and a corresponding app to impart its wisdom to users. I didn’t get a great look at the interface while on the show floor, but some poking around online reveals that the UI is nearly as spartan as the blocks that drive it.
I’m really rather fond of this thing, but the biggest question here is, well, why? The concept itself is just odd enough that the average consumer may shy away from the Lapka. Still, I think there’s reason enough to be hopeful for the Lapka’s future. The Quantified Self movement has picked up quite a bit of traction thanks to the advent of some cheap, pretty activity trackers after all, so maybe Lapka will able to spearhead a Quantified World movement.
In case you’re as perplexed and intrigued as I was, you can score your very own set of iOS-friendly sensors for $220 right here.