Going Green? Mobile Phone Reads Pollution Levels!

Posted on May 12, 2010 by .

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This phone does everything other mobiles do and more… It has the ability to read pollution levels!

These prototype mobile phones read pollution levels with built-in air quality sensors.

These prototype mobile phones read pollution levels with built-in air quality sensors.

Researchers at Intel Labs in Berkeley, California, have created a prototype of a mobile phone that takes in air and produces pollution measurements of the area.

The air-quality phone developed by Woodruff and Alan Mainwaring is a bit big and clunky with big holes to let air in. And the sensors that pick up carbon monoxide, ozone and nitrogen oxide aren’t small enough to let the phone fit in most pockets. But the developers say this will definitely change in the near future.

The researchers also hope that one day everyone who carries a phone will be a mobile air quality monitor. This as an alternative to the 4,000 stationary monitors used by the US Environmental Protection Agency and state partners.

It’s “citizen science” taken to a whole new level. The pollution readings would be useful for several reasons, said Allison Woodruff, a research scientist at Intel. First, they would give regulators an idea of where air quality trouble spots are that government monitors are missing. She says the areas have significant distances between them that millions of walking monitors could easily fill.

The moving air sensors also would enable a new level of social science, she said. If you wanted to learn more about asthma, for instance, you could look at the air quality experienced by asthma sufferers and see if that had any impact.

Currently, such evaluations aren’t really possible, Woodruff says. The measurements would be tied to a person’s GPS location to create a real-time map of air quality readings. That info could be available to everyone on an application or a website, the researchers say.

Woodruff says the phone will soon be equipped with light sensors that tells it to stop taking and uploading measurements while inside a pocket. Air quality sensors are getting better and smaller and they are confident the kinks will get worked out, and that this idea will make the air healthier.

Woodruff and Mainwaring hope their pollution-tracking phone will soon become a reality.

What do you think about this new device. Let us know your thoughts by commenting below:

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