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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  • http://Website Kenny

    I’ve had this app for about 6 months. It’s a decent review for a great free app.

    I must disagree with the reviewer on one thing-this app does not need a button to play sound bytes. If I wanted Star Trek sound bytes, there are soundboards for that.

    • http://www.mattdemers.com Matt Demers

      The “Shut up Wesley” was more of a joke; but yeah, I could see that it would kind of ruin the authenticity.

  • http://www.earnmoney99.com sean

    Guess it doesn’t work with 1.5. Not in my market for samsung moment.

    • http://www.brainhandles.com Greg Bulmash

      Same boat as Sean. My Samsung Moment says no-such app.

      Maybe when the magical mystical vaporware 2.1 upgrade coalesces into being.

    • http://Website EnQ

      Same for HTC Hero.

      • http://Website EnQ

        The FAQ confirms that versions >= 4.0 need Android 1.6; older versions are available on the Google code download page as APK.

  • http://Website ChrisH

    I’ve had this app a long time, probably since the end of 2008. I have always appreciated the regular TLC the creater has put into the app. I’m not sure how much improvement the app will need here on out; its a well designed, authentic experience. Star trek fan or not, this is a project worth checking out!

  • http://www.goldfishview.com David Shellabarger

    Tricorder is awesome!
    Its actually kinda useful too, even if you are not a fan of Star Trek.

  • http://www.jonnylam.com Jonathan

    It’s spelled wookiee (two e’s). ;-)

    • http://www.mattdemers.com Matt Demers

      Thank you. This shall be fixed.

  • http://Website Zer0-9

    If you like this you might also like this homescreen replacement


  • http://Website @dariFRESH

    Great read! Going to have to hulu some Star Trek so I can understand completely.

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  • http://Website lalaland

    so does it work on samsung moment and how do i scan that to download??

    • http://Website lalaland

      well i figured out how to scan it but it is not found in the market to download. so i guess thats its for me :)

  • http://Website Gordon ayres

    I would like t get rid app on I phone

  • http://Website dj.megan


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  • http://Website Big Frank

    This is the sort of review that seems to “damn with faint praise.” This app is without doubt the coolest app that i have downloaded into my Droid X. The compass feture is very useful to me since I travel a lot. I have matched the speed readout under the “Geo” setting with my car’s speedometer and it matches perfectly; a great way to test your speedometer. It will also detect magneteic fields and give the decibel readout of the ambient noise. I use these features al the time. And, of course, in addition to being useful, this app is just plain COOL!.

  • Klaus

    I had this app in my GS, though after upgrade to 2.3.3, have lost it and now I can’t find it in the market, neither free or paid!!! Some one can give me a help?

  • sleestaak

    CBS killed this freekin awesome app! Greedy stupid corporate asswipes! YOU SUCK!!!!!

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