Archive for the ‘Public Laboratory’ tag

Spectral Challenge: Public Lab launches a new project to improve open source technology

By March 28th, 2013 at 9:14 am | Comment

Spectral Challenge
Public Lab has launched Spectral Challenge, a two-part crowd funded project to improve the use of open source spectrometers. A spectrometer is a common research tool which uses light to identify an unknown substance’s chemical composition.

Last year, members of the PLOTS community successfully developed a versatile and user friendly $40 spectrometer. While more accessible, the difficulty is making such open source technology reliable. That is where this new project comes in.

Spectral Challenge Stage 1 “Collaboration” ask participants to develop methodology which will improve and standardize the use of open-source spectrometers. Techniques need to be documented and submitted by May 31. The winning team will receive $1000 from the crowd funded prize pool.

Stage 2 “Real World Use” applies these improved methods for research on environmental pollutants such as petroleum or toxic heavy metals. Stage 2 starts June 5 and more details of the competition will follow. Winners will receive 80% of the prize pool money and the remaining 20% will be used to promote future open source technology through the Public Lab nonprofit.

Public Lab emerged from a collaboration between the Grassroots Mapping Community and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade following the 2010 BP oil spill. Its mission is to foster civic science by developing various open-source tools to further environmental research. These tools could be used by formal researchers and citizen scientists alike. Back in September 2012, SciStarter joined with Public Lab to help promote their tools as they related to citizen science projects in the SciStarter Project Finder.

Future of crowdsourcing visual data for scientific study?

By February 19th, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Comment

How cool! Imagine if 1,000 people took a photo of the same landmark in a park, let’s say, over a set period of time. We’d realize what’s in that part of the park all the time and what’s there temporarily. Changes in nature (phenological changes, in particular) and other activities would be recorded and trended but what if near infrared filters were also placed on those cameras? We could then compare sensor data from the cameras to make good estimates about the temperatures in that park and compare that to usage statistics in that same park over the same time. We might be able to predict the day when leaves will fall from the park’s trees…and so much more.
Watch this short video to learn about other possible outcomes of using visual data for scientific study in the future. The possibilities seem endless.
From Intel Labs:

“In this video episode everyday photos are turned into visual data points to aid in the collection of data for scientific study. This segment is part of Vibrant Media, a series created by Intel Labs devoted to envisioning new ways to use Technology and Media.”