Apr 02 AT 9:00 AM Matt Demers 23 Comments

Tricorder: Turn your Android phone into a multi-sensor environmental monitor

It’s no secret that Android has a healthy nerd following. What device that allows you to check your e-mail, update Twitter and browse the web at the same time wouldn’t? However, this provides yet another battlefield for a war that’s been waging for eons: Star Wars vs. Star Trek.

While the wookies have their share of lightsaber apps (including my personal favourite, The Schwartz Unsheathed), those who’d rather relax on the enterprise with Deanna Troi (or that dreamy William Riker) can now take solace, knowing they can turn their phone into a surprisingly functional Tricorder.

The goods:

  • The tricorder’s functions. From first look, this seems to be one of those apps that displays an animation and beeps with sounds from the show; however, developer Moonblink used the functions of the Android phone in order to provide informational readouts on the environment around you.
  • Readouts available include a graphed accelerometer status (wave it around, it goes nuts!), audio analysis (in decibels), geographic readout using a compass and GPS, signal power readings based on 3G and WiFi. Perhaps most impressively, it displays an analysis of the sun’s environment which includes photographs of sunspots and its corona.
  • Authentic sound effects! This is pretty much a given, but props for making me think I have a tricorder in my hand.
  • Sharp graphics on my Milestone. Everything is readable.
  • Translates the current date into a Stardate

Needs improving:

  • While I don’t have any major criticisms for the app, I think that if anything were to be added to make it better, it would be some sound bytes of actual show lines. I mean, if I have a button that says “Shut up Wesley!” every time I press it, I’d be damned happy.

Final Verdict

The Tricorder is one of those apps that has hardly anything wrong with it, but only serves a very specific function: to impress your nerd friends. It’s also great to show off your phone’s higher functions in a friendly way: there’s lot of great graphs and diagrams that make it easier to explain what’s going on. It’s free, as well, which definitely makes the download more attractive; I mean, what do you have to lose?

Well, besides the friendship of those who wield the Force.

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Source: Moonblink

Matt is a Toronto blogger who enjoys writing opinion columns about culture, comics and of course, Android. You can find more of Matt's work on his personal site.

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