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George Yu's Node Gadget Can Measure Anything

A Gadget That Can Measure Anything
George Yu's Node Gadget Can Measure Anything
Photograph by Dan Depew for Bloomberg Businessweek

George Yu can take your temperature from two feet away, scan your house for leaky insulation, and determine the dampness of your basement with a gadget he invented called the Node, which works with an iPhone. The three-inch tube, which he describes as “a little Swiss Army knife of sensors,” records the world around it and beams the data to the phone via Bluetooth. The Node has so far caught the attention of hobbyists, who’ve bought 450 of them. Now, Yu is marketing the device to industries ranging from home improvement to health care through his Chattanooga-based startup, Variable Technologies.

The Node’s body consists of a tiny circuit board with three attached motion sensors inside a thumb-size plastic cylinder. Users can screw on other sensors that measure moisture, temperature, light, and color to either end. Yu’s innovation is combining the sensors in one flexible system and developing a compatible smartphone app that displays the environmental data the sensors pick up.