The â€˜Speckâ€™ can connect to WiFi and warns householders about how to reduce pollution exposure
A personal indoor air pollution monitor capable of warning householders about the health risks of fine particles in the homes has been launched by a US university in Texas this week.
Developed at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute for sale by its spinoff company, the â€˜Speckâ€™ monitor provides users with information about levels of particulate matter PM2.5 and can warn them to take action to reduce exposure through such means as closing windows.
Launched at the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, the Speck has a display screen which shows instantly whether high levels of particulates are present, and is also WiFi connected, enabling the monitoring data to be uploaded to a database controlled by the user.
A Speck site stores the data and provides analytical tools, including links to readings from federal air monitoring stations, the University said. The user can access the site and share their monitoring data.
Illah Nourbakhsh, professor of robotics at the University, said: â€œSometimes you can see air pollution as a haze in the distance, but in and around your home, itâ€™s invisible. You might know the PM2.5 level at a government monitoring station miles away, but without a sensor such as Speck, you canâ€™t know what is in the air you breathe and how it might change based on prevailing winds, time of day or what youâ€™re doing.â€
The Heinz Endowments and Pittsburgh Foundation have paid for 1,000 Specks to be made available to individuals through public libraries, schools and groups in the Pittsburgh region. 10 Specks are currently available for loan at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
Elsewhere, the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, which investigates the health effects associated with natural gas drilling, has been using around 115 of the monitors over the past year to investigate the health complaints of residents living close by to the drilling sites.
According to the University, the Speck monitors are on sale for around $200 (Â£135).