Spectroscopy made portable, affordable, and adaptable.


ScanSpectrum is a line of low-cost, portable spectrometers. We aim for both affordability and high build quality, combining careful design with inexpensive yet powerful components.

Our inspiration for ScanSpectrum is the scarcity of publicly available agricultural and medical data. The pain points we address are: (1) the high prices of desktop lab instruments for compositional assessment, and (2) the logistical costs of ferrying samples between the field and the lab. We believe collecting larger, more spatially distributed datasets with “good enough” sensors is much more effective than having only a few expensive sensors at limited sites. When datasets are large enough, machine learning provides a pathway to calibrating inexpensive sensors against “gold standard” equipment.

While ScanSpectrum is still in early-stage development, it is a very promising prototype. We are piloting devices with partners in a few countries, and been able to successfully detect particular plant stresses and illnesses. We also promote a hybrid approach that switches between dry and wet chemistry, depending on what is being assessed. Our technology can be reshaped into a variety of different form factors, such as handheld scanners for in-field manual assessment, or ruggedized modules for automated assembly lines.

Our current in-field sensor is a gun-shaped device carried in a compact, fitted case complete with documentation, accessories, and spare parts. It interfaces with an Android phone via Bluetooth, and reports both the spectrum and NDVI in a matter of seconds, while also saving this georeferenced and data to the cloud in openly accessible formats. Sample preparation procedures differ depending on targets, but can be automated with custom design.

We are interested in partnering with organizations aiming to solve specific industrial use cases with spectroscopy, and manufacturing partners or philanthropists to scale up production.

Handheld Spectroscopy

“That’s a pretty impressive piece of kit!”

– Stephen Fry, admiring ScanSpectrum


ScanSpectrum is ultra-lightweight and fits in the palm of your hand.
It plugs into your own Android phone and power bank.

Everything you need comes in a compact suitcase that fits in your backpack.

Spectrometer Kit


Scan specimens in seconds.
Lighting fast data capture with immediate rendering of spectrograms onto your phone.


Choose how you want to play.

Configure different muzzles and plug-ins to support both colorimetric wet chemistry and infrared spectroscopy.

spectrometer finger accessory
spectrometer part


Scans are uploaded to the cloud in open, machine-readable formats.
Share data and build predictive models to your heart’s content.

API Logo


Compute concentrations with accuracies provably identical to that of lab equipment costing hundreds of times more.

Methyl Orange Normalized Spectra graph
Methyl Orange Absorbance


We channel the strongest techniques learned from the maker movement, including 3D printing and ARM technologies, to build professional hardware at affordable costs.

Yellow piggy bank, isolated on white background

Use Cases

Soil Analysis

Apply standard colorimetry to measure labile concentrations for nutrients such as C, N, P, K.
Or use infrared mode to build localized predictive models for total concentrations of macronutrients such as C and N, and properties such as pH.

Plant Health Assessment

Capture NDVI, PRI, and similar vegetation indexes in seconds.
Perform the same measurements done by crop sensors and chlorophyll meters.

Environmental Health

Rapidly measure water quality metrics such as acidity and chemical oxygen demand.
Assess the completion of chemical reactions in industrial settings.


Below are the specifications for our first line of devices.

Spectral Range400-1000 nm
Resolution (FWHM)3 nm
Measurement Time4 s
Spectral Image Size1920 px
Working Modestransmittance using standard cuvettes; reflectance
Weight (full kit)860 g
Dimensions (case)30 x 28 x 12 cm
Operating Temperature0-70°C
Power Requirements5V, 2A USB source

Devices with alternative specifications are also in development, and may also be constructible upon request.


We thank USAID and CIMMYT for their support of ScanSpectrum.


Request Partnership

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Contact Us

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