Smartphone Sensor Identifies Air Pollution

Researchers are designing a sensor that connects to smartphones in order to measure air pollution.
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Researchers are designing a sensor that connects to smartphones in order to measure air pollution.
smog sensing smartphone

Photo Credit: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are developing a smog-detecting sensor that connects to smartphones, where users can learn more about the air pollution in their surroundings. 

"Instead of the conventional infrared LED in the sensor, the flashlight of the smartphone emits light into the measurement area. This light is scattered by the possibly existing dust or smoke. The camera serves as a receptor and takes a picture representing the measurement result. The brightness of the pixels can then be converted into the dust concentration," computer scientist and KIT researcher Matthias Budde told Science Daily.

The sensor will attach to smartphones with a magnet. Though current smartphones are not as precise as the instruments being used to test the sensor, scientists are working to improve their precision. Budde notes that a sensor that can detect fine dust will be developed in the next year.

Researchers are hoping to eventually have users participate in drawing a detailed map through participatory sensing. As more people take part, the more precise the results will be. The hope is to have a real-time fine dust pollution map for large cities. 

For hayfever and pollen allergy sufferers, these maps will be essential to ensuring you get your convertible car-roof/dust mask/blotchy face ready for action as you approach regions of high dusty-ness-iosity (the official term).

Learn more about smog-detecting smartphones in the video below (you'll get more out of it if you speak German).