Spectroscopy made portable, affordable, and adaptable.

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ScanSpectrum is a portable VIS-NIR spectrometer, enabling in-situ agricultural and environmental analysis at scale. It is both affordable and performant, constructed through years of testing and design by the hardware and software engineers at QED.

The need for information

Why ScanSpectrum

ScanSpectrum was inspired by the scarcity of publicly available agricultural and medical data, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The pain points we address are:

  1. the high prices of benchtop lab instruments for compositional assessment, and
  2. the logistical costs of ferrying samples from field to lab.

To translate data into actionable and practical policies, collecting larger and more spatially distributed datasets with “good enough” sensors is often more effective than having only a few expensive sensors at limited sentinel sites. ScanSpectrum provides a pragmatic method of both collecting training data at scale, and deploying calibrated models in the field and across supply chains.

How we do it

Our Approach

ScanSpectrum is being used by a network of researchers and first-class laboratories in several countries to detect a multitude of phenomena, including crop and plant nutrition, plant stresses, and food integrity. Together we are building a battery of scientific evidence demonstrating what is possible with this portable and affordable device. If you wish to join our network, please reach out. We also promote a hybrid approach that switches between dry and wet chemistry, depending on what is being assessed, as our device supports both reflectance spectroscopy for solids, and transmittance spectroscopy with liquid analytes placed into an insertable standard-issue cuvette. 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.


The device for all environments

Portable and Accessible

Our current in-field sensor is shaped like a Star Trek phaser, and carried in a compact, fitted case complete with documentation, accessories, and spare parts. It interfaces seamlessly with an Android phone via USB port and provided cable, and it reports both the spectrum and NDVI in seconds, while also saving the georeferenced data, in openly accessible formats. Sample preparation procedures differ depending on targets, but can be automated with custom design.

ScanSpectrum kit

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.


Portable - icon


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.

Fast - icon


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

Adaptable - icon


Choose how you want to play. Configure different muzzles and plug-ins to support both colorimetric wet chemistry and infrared spectroscopy.

Interoperable - icon


Spectra are recorded in open, machine-readable formats. Share and build models to your heart’s content. Tie spectra and questionnaires together via a direct integration with Open Data Kit (ODK).

Reliable - icon


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

Affordable - icon


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

Use Cases

Plant Health Assessment

Capture NDVI, nitrogen concentration, moisture, and other vegetation indexes in seconds. Perform the same measurements done by crop sensors and chlorophyll meters, as evidenced from years of experimental trials.

Use Cases - image

Environmental Health

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

Use Cases - image

Soil Analysis

Use colorimetry and transmittance mode to measure labile nutrients such as C, N, P, K. Or use reflectance mode to build localized predictive models for C, N, and pH.

Use Cases - image


Spectral range400-1000 nm
Resolution (FWHM)3 nm
Measurement time4s
Spectral image size1920 px
Working modesreflectance mode, including special mounts for leaves and powders; transmittance mode, using standard cuvettes
Weight (full kit)860 g
Dimensions (case)27.5 x 24 x 7.5 cm
Operating temperature0-70°C
Power requirements5V, 2A USB source
IntegrationsOpen Data Kit (ODK)
ScanSpectrum kit


We thank the partners below for their support of ScanSpectrum.

United States Agency for International Development logo
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center logo
Agency for Restructuring and Modernization of Agriculture logo
ARM logo
Open Data Kit logo

Become our partner

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