An unexpected phenomenon encountered by a team of scientists at BASF SE can be seen as the starting point for the trinamiX company: A supposed experiment error quickly turned out to be a revolutionary discovery that needed to be further researched. Thus, in 2015, trinamiX GmbH was spun off as a wholly owned subsidiary of the world's largest chemical company. Meanwhile the start-up has become an internationally operating company that employs hundreds of specialists worldwide who develop cutting-edge biometric and mobile NIR spectroscopy solutions.

The collaboration between trinamiX and aroma:id begins in 2019 with the design of a handheld near-infrared (NIR) spectrometer for mobile use: trinamiX PAL One (Portable Analytical Lab). NIR spectroscopy is an established lab method through which the compositional properties of a broad range of sample types are determined. This way users, for example, can identify the plastic type of a bottle or determine the protein level of a cereal probe. The method uses light in the near-infrared spectrum – invisible to the human eye – to examine materials. The samples are irradiated with infrared light, which is partially reflected. Using sensitive sensors, intelligent algorithms and complex databases, information about the material composition can be obtained from the reflection.

Press photos trinamiX GmbH

trinamiX has made it its mission to miniaturize and make this analysis method accessible as a "lab in your pocket". The intended use could hardly be more heterogeneous. Agriculture and food production, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, but also the recycling industry can benefit from NIR spectroscopy to gain information about the quality and composition of the respective samples. The requirements for the instrument’s design are correspondingly diverse – technology, shape, ergonomics and visual appearance. trinamiX PAL One has to function under cleanroom conditions as well as in earthy mud, has to cope with chemical samples as well as aggressive cleaning agents. In addition, it should be able to disappear in a jacket pocket but must also stand stably on a lab bench – even upside down despite the most precise and small measuring tip possible. All these requirements bring design demands that are difficult to unite.

Extract from the ergonomics study

Creation of variants for the determined layout

Product rendering

aroma:id had the freedom to freely design the basic layout of the defined, technical components. The first steps in the development of the concept involved comprehensive ergonomic studies in order to do justice to as many usage scenarios as possible. In the process, a wide variety of measurement directions were investigated, as well as handling in every conceivable body and hand position. The box shape with an axial measuring direction and a central trigger was found to be the optimal arrangement, which also promotes a small size.

The facetted appearance of PAL One reflects the versatility of its field of application, while the clear edges echo the precision of its measuring technology. However, the utilization of space for the smallest possible overall volume that can be easily held by any hand was the main focus of the design. The circular shape of the measuring head refers on the one hand to the underlying technology, in which the IR lamps are placed radially around the sensor. On the other hand, the shape allows the head to be unscrewed so that the light source can be easily replaced if necessary. The beveled steps and intersections reduce the overall volume and help PAL One achieve its slim yet stable silhouette.

Press photo trinamiX GmbH

The icons of the device also follow aroma:id's design ideas to generate a perfect user journey. The turned off, permanently lit or flashing icons convey a whole range of information that was developed together with trinamiX. This includes, for example, information about battery charge status, pairing and measurement readiness, or successful and failed measurements.

A special piece of equipment that trinamiX PAL One always carries with it is the white reference – a specific, high-quality disc made of Teflon that serves to calibrate the measuring system on a regular basis. The snap-on lid integrated at the bottom of the device's housing, which contains the reference on the protected inside, is also an aesthetic solution. It hides the product label, the only two mounting screws and a USB port. This maximises the perceived robustness of the IP65-certified unit. The fact that a snap-on lid missing from the device is conspicuous was the designers' intention. This way, this valuable tool can hardly be forgotten and lost.

The successful collaboration between trinamiX and aroma:id did not end with the launch of trinamX PAL One. "trinamiX PAL Two" already follows on from this collaboration ....

Prototype no. 1

Product renderings

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Design inspires us. We love to be creative and free, to develop concepts and explore new paths, to find surprising solutions and to bring exciting products to market together with our partners. At the same time we feel comfortable with ambitious design tasks, technical restrictions, binding briefings and finite budgets. We understand design as “part of the game”.