Friday, December 12, 2014

SK Telecom launches portable air quality sensor

The announcement that SK Telecom has launched a portable air quality monitoring device with an associated smart phone app caught my eye this morning.  According to Koreabizwire, "Designed to enhance people’s health and well-being, Air Cube monitors the air quality of the surrounding environment to determine if the conditions are just right for users. Air Cube comes in two different models: Air Cube C measures the level of fine dust particles and carbon dioxide, while Air Cube T offers fine dust level and discomfort index (by measuring temperature and humidity). The air quality is measured every 15 seconds and the results are shown in five levels. When the air contamination/pollution reaches or exceeds level four, the device makes an alarm sound to warn users."
Similar devices have been launched in the U.S. and in China, with the latest ones being small wearable devices.  Wired reported recently on a wearable device developed in China and shown in the accompanying graphic (click for full size version).
As noted in the Wired article, "Earlier this year, Beijing’s concentration of PM 2.5 particles—those fine enough to penetrate the lungs and enter the bloodstream—reached 505 micrograms per cubic meter, and the World Health Organization recommends a safe level of 25. Forty percent of global air pollution-related deaths—1.2 million in total—have been linked to PM-2.5 pollution in China, according a 2013 WHO report. This means it’s vitally important that the Chinese keep a close eye on the quality of the air around them. But reliable data can be difficult to come by. Just last week, when several major heads of state met for an important regional summit in Beijing, the government reportedly blocked air pollution data provided by the U.S. Embassy from being displayed on local smartphone apps and websites. clarity-inline2 Screenshot: courtesy Clarity It’s no small problem, and David Lu aims to solve it. Together with seven other students at the University of California, Berkeley, Lu recently created a new kind of air pollution sensor dubbed Clarity. This keychain-sized gadget lets you constantly track your personal exposure to air pollution via a smartphone app. But it’s also a way of crowdsourcing much broader studies on air quality—not only across China but throughout other parts of the world as well."

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