Imagine yourself under the dreadful heat. You see a body of water spanning miles right in front of you. The animals around you partake in this glistening, clear, and cool water and you just can’t help but get in there yourself. But what if the water you so desperately crave was contaminated? Worry no longer since this smartphone attachment can detect whether the water is clean with a simple tap on your screen.
Source: University of Leiden
Astronomers at the University of Leiden developed an add-on for your phone that can tell you the quality of the water in front of you by simply pointing at it. No need to buy any fancy apparatus or techy equipment, just point your smartphone at it and let it rip. Although it might be a useful tool to check where you could quench your thirst, that was not its original intended purpose. Water pollution can be very helpful towards making advancements in science, especially if it’s taken quickly and precisely.
With this new development, anyone with a proper phone could help in gathering data to aid against water pollution. Last 2013, the same team of astronomers along with skilled toxicologists developed iSPEX (Spectropolarimeter for Planetary EXploration) another phone attachment, but instead of checking water, this one checked the air. The Dutch community, along with people from Athens to London helped take readings all around. The result was a detailed map of the Netherlands area of precise dust particle readings.
Aerosol Map. Source: iSPEX
The technology for the water quality checker is a spinoff of what astronomers use to see if oxygen is present on planets. They operate in such a way that samples no longer need to be taken back home, thus removing wasteful efforts. For water, it might be a little different due to multiple factors. Color can be influenced by the weather, sediments can be blown in by the wind, and lack of sunlight can make it look darker. That’s why participants would also need to take a picture of the sky in order to get accurate readings. This could lead to potential advancements in detecting causes of water pollution and could help better the environment in the future.