Goldsmiths Design Festival 2017: Maurizio Detomaso investigates air pollution in London

For his graduation project from the MA in Design & Innovation, Maurizio Detomaso designed a device that maps the user’s exposure to air pollution:

“The concept is a wearable air quality sensor which can track your personal air pollution exposure. The aim of the project is to raise awareness about the impact the over polluted environment has on human health, and to empower people to collect and map air quality data in the urban environments. The portable device can allow people to have an accurate assessment of their daily exposure to air pollution and it can improve the London air monitoring system network at the same time. Making this “hyper-object” more tangible is the key to influencing strong political and individual actions for a cleaner and healthier environment.”

On how the device works:

“It is a low-cost, open source, Arduino-powered portable air quality monitoring device, which allows people to take accurate measurements of their own personal exposure to PM2.5 (harmful particles) and share it using their smartphone.  The app shows crowd sourced data collected by the device and displays it through heat maps, indicating where the PM2.5 concentrations are highest or lowest around the city. Through the platform, it’s easy to track pollution concentration around you and understand what you can do to breathe better air and be less exposed.”

What is the benefit of this device, and why is the issue important?

“By completely changing the way data on air pollution is collected, the device empowers change makers like you and me to take the matters into our own hands. The device can independently collect and share air quality data giving a better spectrum of the air pollution around you and improving the London monitoring system network at the same time.

Indeed, PM2.5 exposure has a bigger impact on children’s health than it does on adults because their body is in a development stage, even though there are certain categories of adults which can be affected by long term exposure to air pollution such as: pregnant women, older people and outdoor enthusiasts. Unfortunately, policy responses from the London Council have so far been inadequate, and Government plans show that London will suffer from illegal levels of air pollution until 2025.”

On moving the project forward:

“This project wants to be more than just a product, it wants to be a movement, and it needs help. I want to invite more collaborators into this project (infoairmoni@gmail.com). I’m looking for makers, coders, educators in community management, in order to improve and push the limits of this project. My aim is to make this device smaller and to add social networking layers and a game interface to the app. The possibilities are truly endless and I’m really positive about it. So what are you waiting for?.. Join the movement and be part of the change.”