Scientists including two Indian-origin researchers have developed a fleet of portable pollution sensors that allow users to monitor air quality on their smartphones.
The sensors could be particularly useful to people suffering from chronic conditions, such as asthma, who need to avoid exposure to pollutants.
The 'CitiSense' sensors detect ozone, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, the most common pollutants emitted by cars and trucks.
The user interface displays the sensor's readings on a smart phone by using a colour-coded scale for air quality based on the Environmental Protection Agency's air quality ratings, from green (good) to purple (hazardous).
CitiSense is the only air-quality monitoring system capable of delivering real-time data to users' cell phones and home computers - at any time, University of California - San Diego researchers claim.
Researchers provided the sensors for four weeks to a total of 30 users, including commuters at UC San Diego and faculty, students and staff members in the computer science department at the Jacobs School of Engineering.
Just 100 of the sensors deployed in a fairly large area could generate a wealth of data¿well beyond what a small number of EPA-mandated air-quality monitoring stations can provide, researchers claim.
"We want to get more data and better data, which we can provide to the public," said William Griswold, lead investigator on the project.
The team includes professor Kevin Patrick; computer science professors Ingolf Krueger, Tajana Simunic Rosing, Hovav Shacham and Sanjoy Dasgupta; as well as graduate students and postdoctoral researchers Piero Zappi, Nima Nikzad, Elizabeth Bales, Celal Ziftci, Nichole Quick and Nakul Verma.
The findings were presented at the Wireless Health 2012 conference in San Diego.