Node Chroma

Hands-on with the color-sensing tool sure to be a designer's new best friend


The buzz surrounding the release of Node and Lapka this year—two sensor systems that link with iOS—proves that multi-purpose sensors are finally ready for the open market. Thermometers, accelerometers and pedometers are just a few of the sensors we use every day. Unfortunately, they’re almost always hyper-specific. The open-ended applications for Node has thrilling potential, as the design is based around a gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer tube called Kore that has two ports for sensor attachments. The current options include nodes for heat, gas and climate, as well as an intelligent flashlight attachment. Recently, Node inventor George Yu called in to tell us about Chroma, the most recent sensor for reading and matching colors.


The system has limitless applications, and Node is intentionally an open platform. Currently, the device speaks to iOS through a native app, and you can expect to see programmers develop more purpose-specific software. The cylindrical design (roughly the size of a roll of quarters) is perfect for handheld portability, explains Yu, a sensor guru who intended Node for on-the-go readings. Chroma is able to take readings from any surface, using LED light to create an impression of the surface color. The data is saved and displayed in sRGB, CMYK, CIE L*a*b* and Hex values. Storing the image, users can also re-open the file with a paint app like ColorSmart from Behr to match their pigment to the closest paint.

Chroma’s capabilities will presumably provide designers an unprecedented, accurate tool to help match and store colors for their practice. Best of all, at $225, Node with a Chroma sensor is a relatively light business investment. Here at the CH HQ, we used Chroma to test the accuracy of the office color on our wall and business card. The result was a 95.28% match—not bad, but we definitely would have benefited from Chroma when shopping for paints.

Kore, Chroma and the other sensors sell from Variable Tech.