Sensors/IoT Wearables

Breathe easy with the TZOA wearable environmental tracker

The more the world undergoes urbanization, the worse air pollution becomes. Unfortunately, the environment around us is largely invisible and therefore most people don’t pay attention to it even if our health is being adversely affected. The people who do pay attention to what’s going on feel generally powerless to do anything about it mainly because they don’t have the tools at their disposal to make their case, having to rely on spotty and infrequent monitoring by governments that don’t prove very much at all.

The team behind the TZOA wearable environmental tracker is looking to put some smarts in the hands of those concerned. The tracker is outfitted with a proprietary optical air quality sensor that’s able to detect particulate matter 2.5, or PM 2.5. These tiny floating particles are found in harmful pollutants, like car exhaust and the smoke that results from wood burning, and cause permanent damage to our lungs.

Keeping the levels of PM 2.5 in the environment manageable is key to fortifying air quality, so TZOA’s companion app alerts you to elevated levels of contaminants and suggests actions to clean up the air around you. The app also collects the data to create an air quality map so that others can easily see current levels, overtime composing an air quality timeline for reference. The TZOA environmental tracker is $150 CAD (~$130 USD), and backers will receive the device in August of 2015 should its campaign reach its $110,000 CAD (~$96,000 USD) goal.

The TZOA team has similar ambitions to those behind the AirBeam in that they aim to create a platform where people can stay informed using crowd-sourced data about pollution. The AirBeam includes a few more sensors at a premium, but it seems like it would be more worth it as people are already using the AirBeam versus the unreleased product in the TZOA. In any case, as much as the problem of air pollution is a problem of information, various disconnected platforms addressing the same issue in the same way will ultimately do no good in the long run.



Portable AirBeam monitors and reports air quality

Air pollution is a rapidly growing concern all throughout the world. Our dependence on mass production and the use of fossil fuels directly affects the air we breathe no matter where we are, because what is created in another part of the world ultimately travels and gets to us. Even if the problem has the potential to wreck all sorts of havoc on our health, it sadly goes largely ignored because it’s invisible. Although there are government sites where air quality is monitored and recorded, the network is too sparse and dated to provide a full and accurate picture, much less be used as proof in matters of legislation. That’s where the AirBeam comes in.

The AirBeam is a portable arduino-based air quality monitor that continuously monitors the air and sends that data to a smartphone with Bluetooth, feeding it back to the AirCast environmental awareness platform. AirCast crowdsources all of this data from the thousands already using AirBeam to create a robust and extremely accurate picture of air quality. This allows citizen scientists, change makers, and ordinary people to be more informed and make an impact. To be effective, though, the monitor must work all day, a length of time smartphones have trouble staying on for by themselves. In any case, the AirBeams rings in at $199 which may be a bit pricey considering what kind of mass aspirations HabitatMap, the non-profit behind AirBeam and AirCast, has. Backers can start monitoring the air in May of 2015, if the creators reach their $50,000 goal.