The human eyeball has three measurement channels. Chromation’s high-quality spectral sensors are capable of sensing UV-VIS-NIR ranges and have approximately 60 measurement channels. The scientific community would say that the human eye is coarse in comparison.
Dr. Nadia Pervez, the VP of Operations at Chromation, has made it her goal to build these sensors at low cost, so people can create products that might otherwise be out of their market range. This is particularly relevant to the consumer electronics market which is why Chromation had a large presence at The 2014 International CES.
Going far beyond light and color measurement, Chromation’s sensors have a diversity of applications when it comes to water testing, chemical sensing, and medical testing. Pervez dug a bit deeper with us, though, and shined some light on how that is helping them fit into their niche.
Tech Cocktail: What got you initially interested in this niche?
Nadia Pervez: Back before the company existed, John Kymissis and I were working on a project using photonic crystals at Columbia University. While working, we realized that we could use the same technology to make a compact, simple device to separate colors, and it would be much lower cost than the “inexpensive” spectrometers we had in the lab. So we formed Chromation to take that technology out of the lab and turn it into a product.
Tech Cocktail: Specifically, who is using your sensors?
Pervez: Right now we are primarily reaching markets where people have been seeking lower cost alternatives to spectrometers. These customers are primarily in testing and measurement markets where the devices required for testing are large and expensive.
So, they live in a lab or back in the office and people collect samples and wait to bring them back. In many of these markets, there is an interest in producing an instrument that can be deployed in the field, and that’s where our device fits in.
Tech Cocktail: How do you stack up against the competition?
Pervez: On the low end we run into the RGB color sensors, color filters, and LEDs. These technologies work well when you don’t need that many measurement channels across the visible spectrum (e.g. 10), but they are coarse for applications like color measurement. On the high end are the compact spectrometer products which offer many more measurement channels (e.g. > 1000) but they are too expensive for a lot of applications.
We target applications where you need more measurement channels than the low end solutions can supply but can’t tolerate the price of a spectrometer. We can provide 10x better spectral performance than the low end at 1/10 of the cost of a spectrometer.
Tech Cocktail: How are you marketing to customers?
Pervez: We talk to as many people as we can to find applications where we can provide a competitive advantage, and then find companies in those spaces. Word of mouth has been important, too. We like to show demos in different applications — it gets people thinking about different things the spectral sensor can do.