Hands-On with the Lapka PEM

We’re almost a decade and a half into the 21st century, and the Internet has now been around long enough that most of us experience some form of retrograde amnesia with regards to our inability to remember a time not so long ago when the Internet was just a baby, and dial-up connections were really fast weren’t that slow.

With the proliferation of the Internet – and the advancement of technology – we’re now ushering in a new era of information amalgamation – the Internet of things.  It’s estimated that over a quarter of Americans will be making some sort of wearable tech purchase within the next year, and that percentage is only going to increase more in the coming years.

A company called Lapka has made some big waves in this space with the release of two different wearables.  One is called the ‘Lapka BAM’ (BAM is short for blood-alcohol monitor), and it’s a portable breathalyzer that let’s you test your BAC in seconds.  The best part of the BAM is that since its ‘mouthpiece’ is your hand, you can also share it with your friends so everyone in your group has an idea of how drunk – or sober – they really are.

*(This also throws a wrench into my lifelong fantasy of throwing a huge, multi-keg party where all of the kegs contain non-alcoholic beers.  C’mon – you can’t deny how hilarious it’d be to see how many of your friends actually completely fake their drunkenness, which would clearly be evident if they acted drunk from drinking non-alcoholic beer 🙂  But in all seriousness, having BAC monitors like the BAM readily available is a huge step forward for the safety of everyone on roads across the country.)

As awesome as Lapka’s BAM is, their flagship device, the ‘Lapka PEM’ (personal environment monitor) gives you tons of insight into your immediate surroundings.  It has sensors that measure four key things in your environment:

1) The nitrate count of your food

2) The strength of the electromagnetic (EM) fields where you’re at

3) The amount of radiation being emitted by devices nearby

4) the temperature (in both Fahrenheit and Celsius) and relative humidity of where you are

*Note: If you’re a woman and expecting to have a child soon and/or have young ones at home, the PEM’s radiation sensor can be of great use, as both fetuses and young children should have their radiation exposure kept to minimal levels.

After seeing everything it could do, I knew I had to get my hands on one, and here are my thoughts:

“The power is in your hands and at your fingertips.”

The first thing to note about the Lapka PEM is that there are two iOS apps that you can use (Lapka and Lapka Pro) to track your environment.  Both apps ultimately serve the same purpose, but their presentation of the data is different.  The Lapka app shows you not only the value of what you’re measuring, but also provides you with a visual guide showing acceptable and problematic ranges, based on specific environmental parameters (you’ll see two pictures explaining what I’m writing about just below the next paragraph).

First things first – while preparing my food for the day, I decided to microwave my sweet potatoes so that I’d have a chance to test out two of the four things the Lapka PEM measures – nitrate count in food and (EM) field strength.  Before microwaving the potatoes, I pried them with the nitrate sensor so that I could see what the nitrate count was.  I also wanted to do a side-by-side comparison between both apps the Lapka PEM works with.

A side-by-side comparison showing the visual differences between the Lapka (left) and Lapka Pro (right) apps. The Lapka app provides a measured value along with a graph showing the measured nitrate value compared to what’s considered ‘acceptable’, and the Lapka Pro app provides a much simpler presentation, only showing the measured value of nitrates in ppm.

I was thrilled to find out that Trader Joe’s sweet potatoes are well below the acceptable nitrate count threshold for sweet potatoes.

*Side note: this is a great way for you to help gain better insight into the quality of your food.  While nitrates naturally occur in most foods, excessive levels can pose health problems as well as point to potential abuse of pesticides and/or preservatives by farmers/manufacturers of the food.  So if you ever buy something that’s labeled organic and you find that the nitrate count is higher than it should be for that particular food, there’s a good chance that the organic label is a marketing guise.

Next on the agenda was assessing the EM field output of my microwave.  I placed the sweet potatoes inside, and turned on the microwave, placing the sensor and my phone on top of the microwave itself:

My microwave emitted an electric field strength of 2.7 V/m while it was on, which is below the recommended limit of 3.0 V/m.

After eating breakfast, my curiosity led me to measure the background radiation present in my room:

This result surprised me the most. I placed the sensor beneath my phone and next to my computer, and I anticipated that I’d see a reading higher than 0.00 microsieverts per hour (obviously there’s some radiation present, but it’s at such a small level that this sensor can’t pick it up).

Now that I’d seen the Lapka PEM in action for three of its four sensory capabilities, it was time to test the one that was currently affecting me the most (temperature and relative humidity), based on the beads of sweat I’d already started producing only shortly after waking:

Although my body didn’t need much convincing that today was a scorching day, seeing the measurement helped give me a stronger understanding as to why I was sweating profusely. I mean, c’mon, some might consider cooking breakfast to be difficult, but it’s certainly not a sweat-bearing activity (or maybe, it is) 🙂 Even with relatively low humidity (30%), 101 degrees Fahrenheit is enough for anyone to feel hot. I threw in a Lapka (left) and Lapka Pro (right) app side-by-side comparison again, for good measure.

After finishing this measurement, I felt a very interesting sensation – the feeling of acquiring new knowledge. Just a few minutes ago, I had no idea what any of these values would be (with the exception of temperature and relative humidity).

Knowing this information about my environment not only is interesting, it’s empowering. I can test the nitrate count of foods I eat, monitor EM field strength, radiation emission, and also get an accurate gauge of what the temperature and humidity are of exactly where I am. Pretty cool stuff, if you ask me.

If you’re interested in getting a Lapka PEM for yourself, simply go to Lapka’s website and order from there.  They also have them in stock at Urban Outfitters, and you can expect to see them in other retail stores across the country in the very near future.  With regards to the Lapka BAM, it’s currently undergoing approval by the FDA, so it won’t be on shelves for a bit.

Would  I recommend getting a PEM?  Well, if you’re curious about your surroundings and want to have more data at your fingertips, then absolutely.  It’s an awesome tool that is virtually fool-proof in design.  Just plug in any of the four sensors to your phone through the headphone jack, open up either the Lapka or Lapka Pro app, and boom…you’re all set!

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