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Now, smartphone sensor to monitor air pollution in real time

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 11:11

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: What if your old smartphone could tell you about the pollution and dust levels present in air and could save you from various health problems?
Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany are developing a sensor, which when attached to a smartphone, can measure particulate matter and fine dust particles in the air.

The basic idea of smartphone-based sensing, is to track the level of pollution by drawing up a pollution map. The device can be very helpful in tracking city pollution level, especially in cities like Beijing and New Delhi, where the smog level is very high.

Computer scientist Matthias Budde, who developed the system as a member of the research group TECO of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) was quoted as saying to a news agency “Instead of the conventional infrared LED in the sensor, the flashlight of the smart-phone emits light into the measurement area. This light is scattered by the possibly existing dust or smoke”.
"The camera serves as a receptor and takes a picture representing the measurement result. The brightness of the pixels can then be converted into the dust concentration," Budde added.

The smartphone sensors are not yet as precise as specialised instruments. However, their costs are much lower and Budde plans to enhance accuracy by a high measurement density.

The sensor is planned to be attached to the smartphone by means of a magnet and adaptation of electronics will not be required.

Presently, the smartphone sensor can measure concentration of about one microgram per cubic metre. This is sufficient for detecting coarse dust and smoke, but not for typical fine dust concentrations in the microgram range.

(With Agency inputs)

First Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 11:11
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