Public Lab Research note

Public Lab partnership with NASA AREN project brings new easy-to-use tools for classroom use

by warren |

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Since 2011, Public Lab community members around the world have been building and using modified consumer cameras to take multispectral photographs, enabling thousands of people around the world to explore the world around them using vegetation analysis tools such as #NDVI. As illustrated above, comparing infrared and visible light can offer clues to plant health, and DIY cameras like Public Lab's can make this kind of analysis possible on a very small budget.

(this post was cross-posted on the blog)

You can see just a few of these on, and in the new (beta) NDVI tool in Here, DIY aerial infrared photos of a farm in Canada can help reveal healthier and less healthy areas of crops:

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Building on an initial low-cost technique for modifying consumer cameras to take multispectral photographs (by switching a filter behind the lens), Public Lab community contributors have developed a suite of web-based multispectral analysis tools to lower barriers and engage members of the public in using these techniques for the analysis of agriculture, land use, runoff and water quality, wetlands restoration, urban planning, hydroponics, and many other applications.image description

Now, in partnership with the AREN project at NASA and in collaboration with the GLOBE program (and with support from Google Summer of Code), Public Lab is now developing a set of in-classroom materials and resources for students to learn about earth observation and image analysis in an experiential way, from constructing their own multispectral cameras to using the free and open source spectral analysis tools provided by Public Lab. These images show the two types of single-camera modifications - one resulting in a blue-toned image, and one in a red-toned one. It's also possible to do this with two cameras.

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If you teach in or out of a classroom and are interested in how remote sensing, satellite imaging, or vegetation analysis could be part of your education work, we're eager to work with you!

Learn more at and check out our starter kits for modifying cameras at


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