Apparently the people involved with the Voltset Kickstarter campaign agree with me. Voltset is a module that plugs into a smartphone via a USB connection and turns the phone into a smart multimeter. The Kickstarter campaign has met its initial funding goal, so we'll find out if the Voltset team can deliver on their useful looking 21st century tool for the microcontroller enthusiast. If you want to get the deluxe model, the less-expensive early bird pledges are all gone, but you can still get the Voltset Pro for $139. The campaign has 13 more days to run.
An article titled "Voltset - Intelligent Multimeter for your smartphone" on Engineering.com recently described the device this way:
"The most interesting aspect of the Voltset for me was the identification tools. In the Kickstarter video a car battery is being measured, and Voltset recognizes that it's measuring a vehicle and gives the user standard measurements for car batteries. A second demonstration in the video shows an electrical outlet being measured with the same results. Several equations are built into the meter allowing makers to take data and have information beyond what is being measured. A data logging feature keeps the information to give users a history of their project."
|Collect data in spreadsheet|
My guess is that there will be a lot more devices like the Voltset over the next few years. Doing electronics, physics, chemistry and engineering labs in college with tools like the Voltset is going to have a radically improved data gathering approach compared to twenty years ago, or even compared to five years ago. One useful aspect of this tool might be the opportunity to revise the experiment procedure, while you're in the middle of the experiment, based on self-charting of the data being gathered. It might be immediately obvious that gathering data at two higher temperatures will give useful information, or that running the experiment again at a lower pressure will result in the best yield for a batch process.
Another aspect of the Voltset I like is the team that designed and is producing it. It appears to be a truly global diverse distributed team that would be challenging to work on and challenging to manage, but if you get the right group of people together, it would be an awesome and interesting way to collaborate. If interested in this aspect of the project, check out their Kickstarter page and go down toward the bottom to see who all is on the team.
Microcontroller users, open source hardware designers, biohackers, citizen scientists -- everyone who gathers data that can be measured by a meter is going to want a Voltset or its close cousin.