Public Lab Wiki documentation


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Quick links

"The Infra-whatnow?"

The Infragram is a simple, affordable infrared camera platform -- developed collaboratively, by the Public Lab community -- for measuring plant health and geeking out on gardening. It's for home gardeners, hikers, makers, farmers, amateur scientists, teachers, artists, and anyone curious about the secret lives of plants!


It was originally developed to assess damage to wetlands in the wake of the BP oil spill; but it's also a simple, easy-to-modify, open-source hardware and software tool that anyone who's curious about plant physiology and health can use.


Vineyards, large farms, and NASA all use near-infrared photography for assessment, usually by mounting expensive sensors on airplanes and satellites. Infragram brings this technology to average citizens, enabling them to monitor their environment through quantifiable, citizen-generated data.


Just as photography was instrumental to the rise of credible print journalism, DIY data collection technologies like Infragram democratize and improve reporting about environmental impacts.

By creating a low-cost camera and working with farmers and environmental activists, we hope to explore grassroots uses for this kind of technology. What could farmers or activists do with leaf-scale, plant-scale, lot-scale, and field-scale data on plant health if the equipment costs as little as $10 or $35?

What you get:

  • DIY Filter Pack: This is just a piece of "superblue" filter which you can use to turn your webcam or cheap point-and-shoot into an infrared camera. The filter allows you to take an infrared photo in the "red" channel of your camera, and a visible image in the "blue" channel. You'll also receive a white balance card and instructions on how install your filter -- it's pretty easy!

  • Infragram Webcam: At one-twentieth the cost of normally priced consumer infrared cameras, this cheap but flexible reward is perfect for plugging directly into your laptop or integrating into other projects. It's also ideal for your Raspberry Pi, if you want to take it outdoors, do timelapse photography, or write scripts to control your camera. It ships as a bare circuit board with a USB cable - like an Arduino.

  • Infragram Point & Shoot: Just want a camera that is ready to use? This is a straightforward, if basic, point-and-shoot: you can simply take photos as you normally would, then upload them to our free and open-source web app to quickly and easily get a variety of composite images and analyses. To accomplish this, we're simply modifying existing cameras which we'll buy in bulk with the best specs we can reasonably get, using the "superblue" filter. This isn't an SLR or even a particularly fully featured camera -- it likely won't have an LCD screen and may be "rebranded" with a Public Lab sticker -- but it's the new filter we've put inside which counts.

The final configuration will depend on the # of backers, but it will likely use AAA batteries and use a micro SD card. We're promising a minimum of 2 megapixel resolution, but should be able to do much better, especially if we get a lot of backers. Basically, the more money we raise, the better these cameras will get!

The Clap

"The name "Infragram" comes from Infrared Photogrammetry, the use of photography to create spacialized and quantified data. When NASA started using this technique on the Landsat satellites in the 1970's and 80's, each camera was custom-built for the purpose. Now, consumer cameras are so advanced that even a five year old point and shoot can generate excellent data with nothing more than a change of the filters and calibration through the Infragram site."-- Mathew Lippincott, Public Lab

"We're excited that Public Laboratory is developing a low-cost infrared camera which will help us track the success of wetland restoration projects in the Gulf Region--as well as help us track pollution. The Gulf Restoration Network has been using the aerial monitoring techniques that Public Lab developed, so having the infrared camera available to put on the balloon and kite rig will only expand the applications of that technology as well as add value to airplane monitoring flights that help us watchdog the oil industry in the Gulf." -- Scott Eustis, M.S., Gulf Restoration Network

More information

The Public Lab community has been building up a knowledge base in DIY infrared imaging for years. To join in, start here: