Simple Innovations: Cell phone applications

A typical example of an uncommon use of common devices – innovation at its best. Here is how Cell phones are used to track air pollutions.

Computer scientists in Cambridge, UK, are using bike couriers to monitor air pollution. These couriers are doing their usual jobs, but their bicycles are equipped with air-pollution sensors and GPS units that connect to their cellphones via Bluetooth. So their phones are constantly reporting the levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and nitrogen dioxide in the area. And back in the lab, servers are updating a Google map for Internet users and regular cellphone users. The sensors used for this project could also be fixed to a pedestrian’s jacket, which means that everybody in the area could become a pollution tracker.

In this depressing world of  conflict and chaos, it is nice to hear about innovative minds at work. The original project website is here.

The project will develop and demonstrate the potential of diverse, low cost sensors to provide data for the planning, management and control of the environmental impacts of transport activity at urban, regional and national level. This includes their implementation on vehicles and people to act as mobile, real-time environmental probes, sensing transport and non-transport related pollutants and hazards.

Thanks to Roland Piquepaille  who runs a column on “How tech trends affect our lives”