The army of Bluetooth-powered auxiliary hardware being built by hardware startups to extend the native capabilities of smartphones shows no signs of slowing its march. Meet Nix: a colour sensor that lets you scan an object and get its exact colour data signature sent to the corresponding app on your phone so you can maintain a palette of preferred shades — and even track down an exact tin of paint.
The sensor’s Canadian creators say their device is much more accurate than using your phone’s on board camera to grab colour data, firstly because it’s purpose-built for accurate colour scanning and is “calibrated to return exact/specific colour values”. And secondly because it blocks out all ambient light — meaning the true shade can be captured, i.e. unaffected by shadows or changes in lighting conditions.
That’s the ultimate aim. For now, Nix’s creators are seeking $35,000 in crowdfunding on Kickstarter to get their promising prototype plus iOS and Android apps to market. With 29 days left to run on their funding campaign they’re already approaching half that funding amount, with more than 150 backers on board, so things are looking good so far.
Nix is designed to replace old school colour swatches and paint decks, and has obvious applications for interior decorators, and designers and artists of all stripes — anyone who cares about and plays with colour — but its creators also envisage other possible use-cases, such as using a colour scan to determine the ripeness of fruit, say. Or scanning skin-tone to develop custom make-up.
The sensor can be used to scan the colours of fabrics, as well as solid coloured surfaces like paints, albeit they note that patterned fabrics may return an average colour tone if the pattern is tighter than the sensor aperture (approximately the diameter of a nickel).
Nix’s makers, who secured an R&D grant to fund their initial prototyping work (both the sensor hardware and software on a development PC), say they intend the device to be hackable, so are making it open source — noting that possible ‘hack-lications’ could include machine vision for a line-following robot, a greenhouse system with humidity, temperature and light-sensing, or a push-notification for when your fridge is opened.
As well as allowing Nix users to view data on the colour they just scanned, the apps will include the ability to save a scanned colour swatch and add notes to it; view a colour in RGB, HSL, HSV, Lab, XYZ, HTML, or CMYK; convert the colour to other media such as wall paints, oil paints, make-up, watercolour, wood stain, automotive paint etc; select a particular brand associated with the media type you’re after and get directions to the nearest store where you can buy the paint.
How much is Nix going to set you back? This sensor plus apps are up for grabs for CAD$99 on Kickstarter — with eventual RRP expected to be $199. If they hit their funding goals, these makers are aiming to ship Nix by February 2014.