Air Quality Egg

An afternoon workshop today in Bristol marked the arrival of the Air Quality Egg.

This low cost air pollution measurement device, developed by a crowd-sourced Kickstarter project promises to let us all find out what we’re breathing. The egg-shaped box of electronics will measure invisible air pollutants like Carbon Monoxide (CO) and  Nitrogen Dioxide NO2 and send them to a web site where they are recorded, displayed and shared with other people. As more Eggs are installed we’ll get a bigger better picture of the quality of the air around us.

Our devices weren’t available this afternoon, delayed in New York by a courier service, but two of the Air Quality Egg team who have travelled to Europe joined 25 of us at the Create Centre to tell demonstrate the technology and tell us all about it, in great technical detail.

The device isn’t calibrated so it can’t give us exact numeric measurements of  air pollution levels, but it can certainly make us aware of trends and movements, like differences between times of day, days of the week and seasons. Local and national governments have been failing for years to improve air quality, which is getting steadily worse. One school of though says that only people-power driven by awareness of the problem will change things; the Egg might be the enabler that builds awareness.

The audience was a mixture of technologists, professionals in related fields and others who want to understand what they’re breathing. Enthusiastic discussions will continue tomorrow afternoon at the Pervasive Media Studio.