Home air quality sensor stores data in the cloud

The $200 sensor can help monitor PM2.5 particles, which have been linked to disease

The US$200 Speck combines a particle sensor and machine-learning algorithms to gauge the level of PM2.5 pollution in the air, which has been linked to disease. Developed by Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, the sensor can provide information allowing users to make decisions about indoor ventilation and whether to install air filters.

The US$200 Speck combines a particle sensor and machine-learning algorithms to gauge the level of PM2.5 pollution in the air, which has been linked to disease. Developed by Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, the sensor can provide information allowing users to make decisions about indoor ventilation and whether to install air filters.

Researchers have developed a connected air quality sensor that measures fine particulate matter (PM) in homes.

The US$200 Speck combines a particle sensor and machine-learning algorithms to gauge the level of so-called PM2.5 pollution in the air, which has been linked to disease.

Developed by Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, the sensor can provide information allowing users to make decisions about indoor ventilation and whether to install air filters.

The unit incorporates a tiny fan, particle sensor, color display and Wi-Fi connectivity so air quality data can be uploaded to a cloud server. The screen shows whether unhealthy levels of fine particles are present. The sensor data is hosted by CMU but users have control over how the information is shared.

"People and communities need to take back control of their air at home -- and it's very, very difficult today to measure true air quality in the home and act on it," Illah Nourbakhsh, a CMU robotics professor who developed the sensor, said via email.

Most home air monitors detect volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon dioxide but not fine particulates, Nourbakhsh said, adding that the machine-learning algorithms are used to filter out noise from the sensor, which is relatively cheap.

Fine particles have been linked to illnesses including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart problems. PM2.5 refers to particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, about one-thirtieth the average width of human hair.

Nourbakhsh pointed to a recent study by researchers from the University of Chicago, Harvard and Yale which found that fine particulate matter pollution is reducing the life expectancy of more than half the population of India by three years or more.

In a trial, the Speck sensor was distributed to families in the area in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and one found that the sensor showed air quality was reduced when an air conditioner was on, exacerbating their daughter's asthma, Nourbakhsh said. Other alerts were triggered by construction or exhaust from a diesel generator.

Pre-orders are being taken for the Speck sensors, which will begin shipping in April.

Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Carnegie Mellon UniversityInternet-based applications and servicesconsumer electronicsroboticsinternet

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tim Hornyak

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?