Now, we’ll say right off the bat that Jensen’s version of the Star Trek Tricorder doesn’t do everything that it does in the Star Trek shows and movies. However, it does test for some cool levels anyhow. The device has sensors that measure ambient temperature, humidity, air pressure, magnetic fields, surface temperatures, colors, ambient light level, ambient polarization, acceleration, direction, distance (ultrasonically), and it has a GPS receiver.
In the video above, you’ll see an older model of Jensen’s version that he built in 2007. He also has three other upgraded versions. At the moment, versions three and four haven’t been fully completed, but they look pretty cool based upon the photos that Jensen has uploaded to his Project Tricorder website.
Here’s how Jensen describes his goals for the project:
One of the most beautiful aspects of science is that while there is so much we can see and smell and feel around us, there’s an inconceivably large universe around us full of things we can’t directly observe. The Tricorder project aims to develop handheld devices that can sense a diverse array of phenomena that we can’t normally see, and intuitively visualize them so we might see temperature or magnetism or pressure as naturally as we see colour.
The Tricorder project emphasizes accessibility. The devices we build are meant to be as inexpensive as possible, so folks might have access to them without having to worry about the cost, or their difficulty of use. My hope is that someday every household — and every child who wants one — might have access to a small device that can easily be kept close in a pocket or bag, and quickly pulled out when curiosity strikes. By turning a walk home through the park into a nature walk, and Dad’s spring time home repairs into a lesson about heat flow, it’s my hope that everyday experiences will become opportunities to learn and develop an intuitive understanding and deep fluency with the science of our everyday world.
Jensen has released his plans and models for versions one and two of the tricorder for those who are interested in building their own units. We recommend checking out the website, if you’re interested in this project.