Monitoring Pollution Levels Using Your Smartphone

51111_relAir quality can now be monitored in real-time through smartphone devices using small fleet of portable pollution sensors. The invention is developed by scientists at University of California, San Diego.

CitiSense is the first ever air-monitoring system that can potentially help people with chronic conditions from being exposed to pollutants. In addition, this system allows sharing information in areas where devices are positioned with people, who do not have sensors in hand.

William Griswold, a computer science professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego and the lead investigator on the project, is certain that 100 sensors could provide much more data that what EPA-mandated air-quality monitoring stations can. What is more, the data are available to everyone.

The revolutionary sensors can detect nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone. The readings are displayed on users’ smartphones using EPA’s air quality ratings and color schemes.

The sensors were tested by independent users, who were able to identify pollution hotspots, and levels of exposure, and allowed them to take action and avoid polluted areas. In addition, the information that the test-users received, was shared with others.

The scientists presented their findings at the Wireless Health 2012 conference in San Diego earlier this year. They are now hoping that they will secure a grant from the National Institutes of Health in order to monitor pollution levels and estimate exposure around schools.

The big aim of the team is to establish a wireless network comprised of hundreds of sensors. The collected data should then be analyzed and provided to health agencies and the community, at an affordable price.

Although there are still some technical challenges, including the need of expert knowledge to analyze the data and the limited battery life of smartphones, the team is working on finding ways to make an user-friendly application and create an innovative technology that will extend battery life.

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