Low-cost open source device measures air pollution

“Flatburn,” a low-cost open source device developed at MIT’s Senseable City Lab, enables checking air quality anywhere and can be built using a 3D printer or by ordering inexpensive parts.

Unveiling the technology, Simone Mora, a research scientist at Senseable City Lab, also highlighted a just-published peer reviewed paper in the journal, Atmospheric Environment. “We’ve been doing several pilots around the world, and we have refined a set of prototypes, with hardware, software, and protocols, to make sure the data we collect are robust from an environmental science point of view,” commented Mora.

Senseable City Lab’s “Flatburn” air quality detector

The mobile lab’s “Flatburn” detector was initially developed in 2017, and has been tested in devices operated in New York City and the Boston area. The tests compared compared Flatburn-based device performance to that of commercial pollution detection systems, and produced a protocol for using low-cost sensors in commercial and public-facing settings.

The research team has released the details of the Flatburn technology as an Open Source tool here. Also available are documentation and guidance for working with government officials, communities, and stakeholders to process the devices’ results and attempt to shape action and public safety.

Senseable City Lab is at the forefront of studying how environments are emerging. The Lab says it’s uniquely not “bound by the methodologies of a single field.” Additionally, the Lab says it’s “characterized by an omni-disciplinary approach: it speaks the language of designers, planners, engineers, physicists, biologists and social scientists.” Other projects developed by the team include computer vision for tracking real-time activities in cities and examining bridges globally that are “approaching the end of their life span.”

More details on the Flatburn device and its technology are available at MIT.edu, here..