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 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

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?