I’ve been looking for excuses to talk about Pachube (founder Usman Haque has contributed to past Be2camp events I’ve been involved with), the Internet of Things and about crowd-sourced funding of innovations, so an email from Pachube announcing the launch of its Kickstarter fund-raising programme to build a batch of web-enabled air quality monitoring devices was very opportune.
In a nutshell (egg-shell?), the Air Quality Egg is a sensor system designed to allow anyone to collect very high resolution readings of NO2 and CO concentrations outside their home. These two gases are the most indicative elements related to urban air pollution that are sense-able by inexpensive, DIY sensors. The Egg has been developed by a community of Internet of Things people in the USA and Amsterdam. Read more about it here.
The technology comprises an outdoor sensor with an RF transmitter which sends data wirelessly to an Egg-shaped base station indoors. This relays that data to the Internet via a wired Ethernet connection. The air quality data will be sent in real-time to Pachube which both stores and provides free access to the data.
The sensor system has been prototyped and refined several times, and the project is seeking funding via Kickstarter to enable commercial production at an affordable price range. As the name implies, Kickstarter aims to get projects moving; it provides crowd-sourced funding of creative projects, from books to music, from artwork to technologies, often finding backers for community-oriented projects that wouldn’t otherwise get funding from conventional institutions or investors. To me it’s a project well worth supporting; I’ve pledged $100, tweeted, and now blogged about it. Join me. Go to work on an egg!