A community-led air quality sensing network that gives people a way to participate in the conversation about air quality.
Update 4/12: You can now upgrade the Air Quality Egg (including the DIY versions) with sensors for O3 ($25), VOC's ($25), radiation ($60), and particulates ($40)! Add the cost directly to your pledge (we will confirm your order after the campaign ends). See HERE for more info!
#AirQualityEgg: A community-led air quality sensing network that gives people a way to participate in the conversation about air quality.
Where's the data? Look outside your window -- have you ever wondered what the quality of the air is out there? I mean RIGHT. OUT. THERE. 12 inches from your face. If so, you are out of luck. The air quality data collected by the government is likely sampled from far, far away and then applied to you on a regional level -- not very useful from the standpoint of trying to understand or change the local dynamics of pollution that affect you. If you're interested in joining a community of people who are going to change that, you are in the right place!
What is it?
The Air Quality Egg is a sensor system designed to allow anyone to collect very high resolution readings of NO2 and CO concentrations outside of their home. These two gases are the most indicative elements related to urban air pollution that are sense-able by inexpensive, DIY sensors.
The Air Quality Egg is developed by a community effort, born out of groups from the Internet of Things Meetups in NYC and Amsterdam. We are designers, technologists, developers, architects, students, and artists. Read about the history of the development of this project here and here.
How it works
1) Outdoor sensors: A small electronic sensing system plug into the wall and sits outside your home taking regular readings. It has an RF transmitter, which sends the data wirelessly to an Egg-shaped base station inside.
2) Egg base station: An Egg-shaped base station, which gives this project its name, receives the wirelessly transmitted data from the sensor box outside. It then relays that data to the Internet via a wired Ethernet connection. The Egg also acts as a User Interface, so it also has an LED light and a button. These are configurable by applications which will be developed in the future by the community.
3) Data sent to Internet: The air quality data will be sent in real-time to Pachube, an open data service, which both stores and provides free access to the data. The service includes embeddable graphs and the ability to generate triggers for tweets and SMS alerts (it looks something like this), as well as a robust API which allows for developers in the community to unlock the potential of this new dataset by building mashups, maps, and applications.
Where we are now
The Egg's sensor system has been prototyped and refined several times. The current iteration which will go to production has been designed by Joe Saavedra, building on work from a previous project, Citizensensor.cc. The wireless system has been designed by WickedDevice, who will also be managing the production of the finished Egg system.
At the Citizen Cyberscience Summit in London in January, we were able to deploy a small number of Egg sensor boxes and saw our first data collection. We are slowly getting a small run of prototype-level sensor boxes into the hands of beta testers (example: https://pachube.com/feeds/48307). We are running workshops in London and Amsterdam which will have people building up their own units and bringing them home.
How we'll build it
The funding level we are seeking will allow us to achieve the necessary volumes to be able to design and tool custom hardware to bring the price into an affordable range.
Step 1) 3-6 weeks. The current prototype design will be consolidated into a single board by Dirk Swart and Vic Aprea of WickedDevice, who have already done customized volume runs of the Nanode, the open source microcontroller board which provides the platform for the Egg. The Egg enclosure / injection molding will also be developed at this time, based on 3D print runs we've done and will iterate on. A small run of completed test units will be produced in-house to verify the compatibility of the design.
Step 2) 5 weeks. Production. The verified designs will go to the same volume manufacturer who has done previous runs of the Nanode board. A manufacturer for the enclosure will be sourced and contracted at this time.
Step 3) 2 weeks. Assembly/Delivery.
Total: Up to 13 weeks. Estimated delivery: July.
Applications: Each Egg that comes online contributes data that, in aggregate, will provide what is essentially an "air quality API". This will be a platform for web developers who want to apply this information in innovative ways via web apps, mobile apps, visualizations, interactive installations, and more. The Egg base station also has the ability to convey information through a colored light and also has a button for user feedback. These elements can be programmed and re-programmed for all kinds of interactions.
Mobile: Mobilizing sensors opens up an entire new layer of information for people. Development of a solution that incorporates benefits to the community as well as the individual gets more complicated for various reasons beyond just platform, code, and hardware, but we will work through them.
The API will be provided by Pachube.com and every datapoint will be saved forever, accessible at all times in full resolution in CSV, XML, or JSON via REST or real-time sockets. Everyone will own their own data and can control access to it via their Pachube account. The default for everyone's data will be "Public", and so you will be able to use the Pachube API to request every datastream in the world tagged with "AirQualityEgg" or by geography, etc.
For the DIY kits, you'll need basic soldering skills, a soldering iron, and maybe some wire snips. We just did some workshops building these up, so there is some documentation that might be helpful for you as an example here:
We'll certainly build this out more, but you can see the process there.
Just back the project at an amount that is a multiple of the reward you'd like. We'll touch base with you after the campaign is complete to confirm.
How are these things calibrated? The data you are getting seems SUSPECT! How can you prove it is good data?
The sensors will not be calibrated and their precision and sensitivity is mediocre. However, we believe that generating data, even poor data, will not only contribute in a significant manner given the scale and density we can achieve, but we are also giving a community of people who previously had no voice a way to participate. You'll notice that the Air Quality Egg project was not defined as a way to gather precise, scientific air quality data. It was defined as a way to give PEOPLE a way to PARTICIPATE in the conversation! More here: Pachube blog posts: http://blog.pachube.com/search/label/air%20quality%20egg "Crowdsourcing data accuracy" : http://blog.pachube.com/2011/06/crowdsourcing-data-accuracy.html
"Making Sense" video: http://vimeo.com/39775046
The outdoor sensor box will need to be plugged in. We'll be designing something with a very thin/flat cable so it can go through a window and the window can close.
YES OF COURSE! There are specific rewards that include international shipping.
YES! While the data collection model does draw strength from the density of users, there is no better way to say "I CARE ABOUT THIS ISSUE" and start a movement in your own home area than sharing data about your own air quality where you live. We can also work together to use this project to address specific local issues in specific places. You should tell us your story in the comments.
The nature of Kickstarter is that we are raising funding for a project that hasn't been completely designed yet. So, we will most certainly take into account the need for this thing to exist out in a varied environment. We don't have exact specifications yet, though.