Tag Archives: air pollution

BeMap lets you pick the least polluted way to work

This device features GPS for tracking, a lamp for visibility and sensors for measuring pollution along your cycling route.

Most folks typically like commute to work everyday either by car or mass transit. Not only do these vehicles create congestion on the roads, they’re often times costly and not always flexible to one’s schedule. And while cycling is certainly an alternative mode of transportation, many people don’t feel confident riding to work in non-bike-friendly cities. This is something that one team of microengineers have set out to change with their Arduino-based system.


With hopes of encouraging more people to bike to work and improving everyone’s general well-being, four EPFL students have developed an innovative handlebar device with an air pollution gauge and headlight. The system, called BeMap (Bicycle Environmental Mapping), is capable of measuring CO and NO2 levels in the air and transmitting that data to a computer for environmental mapping. These readings can then be crowdsourced online and mapped to help cyclists choose routes with the lowest level of vehicle exhaust and pollution. During any given bike ride, anywhere from 500 to 1,000 pollution readings can be taken and then uploaded in real-time over Bluetooth.

Aside from a CO and NO2 sensor, BeMap is embedded with a temperature and humidty sensor along with an Arduino Leonardo (ATmega32U4) that handles communication and data collection. What’s more, the gadget is equipped with GPS for tracking the path followed by a cyclist throughout their commute and combining the sensors’ data to points on the map. There’s also an LED light to enhance nighttime visibility and for keeping you up to date on the current pollution levels.


According to its creators, BeMap is geared towards to specific users: municipalities who could provide the device to users in order to collect specific information about cycling infrastructures’ quality and air pollution, as well as data-loving riders who’d like to analyze their cycling routes. Plus, the students are already in talks with OpenSense — a project designed to measure air quality through mobile monitoring — who has already placed sensors on trams and buses in Zurich and Lausanne, for instance.

“With bicycles, we can go down narrow streets and reach other spots that are off limits to buses. The readings crowdsourced by BeMap will also help cover more ground,” explains Chloe Dickson, a member of the BeMap project team.


In true Maker spirit, BeMap is entirely open source and all of its documentation and 3D-printable files are available online. Although the project was initially devised as part of the iCan competition, the group is considering marketing a commercial-grade unit, which we wouldn’t be surprised to find on Kickstarter in the near future!

This smart umbrella tracks air pollution

What if your umbrella could help protect the world from air pollution while it protected you from rain? Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design students Saurabh Datta, Akarsh Sanghi, and Simon Herzog recently debuted an umbrella capable of just that. Appropriately dubbed “Sensing Umbrella,” the smart device has the ability to collect air pollution data during a nice stroll through the park or en route to work.

In order to bring the project to life, the team collaborated with Arduino Co-Founder Massimo Banzi. Created in conjunction with Giorgio Olivero of ToDo Design, the smart umbrella equipped with an Arduino Yún (ATmega32u4 MCU) is tasked with measuring local carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide pollution levels.

According to Co.Design’s Carey Dunne, the umbrella then visualizes this data in real-time through a sparkling LED light display on its surface. “Firefly-like lights change their color and rhythm in response to local pollution levels, spreading awareness of the air quality to city dwellers,” Dunne explained.

“This timestamped and geolocated data gets uploaded to the Cloud–to pollution databases–to be analyzed.”

With the emergence of the latest and greatest ’smart’ designs, this is rare piece of tech that aspires to do greater social good than just quantify and improve our individual selves. “As designers, we wanted to embrace this ongoing revolution of ‘The Internet of Things’ with a clear mission: to actively care for the people who use these connected devices,” Maker Akarsh Sanghi tells Co.Design.

In the long term, the Institute of Interaction Design students hope to generate local maps of air pollution hosted on an openly available web-based platform. “This project is entirely based on open-source hardware and software,” Sanghi says. Though the team doesn’t plan to monetize the project or open a company based on the concept, they do hope to create a worldwide event, or movement, in which crowdsourcing data via umbrella turns every person in society into a node in a larger network.

Interested in learning more? You can check out the Sensing Umbrella’s official page here or watch it in action below.