Smartphone Gives Turn by Turn Directions to Cleaner Air

Experimental mobile app helps people plot pollution-free path.

Turn by turn directions to clearner air on smartphone

A demonstration smartphone app flashes green, yellow or red arrows to indicate the air quality in each direction so that people can easily choose routes with cleaner air.

A new demonstration smartphone app that taps into real-time air quality data could point people to the most pollution-free route to their destination.

Using an app on this smartphone that flashes green, yellow or red arrows to indicate the air quality in each direction, Adam Laskowitz navigates though a video simulation of a running course on the streets of a neighborhood in Portland, Ore.

The demonstration, one of many at the annual Research at Intel event in San Francisco, has a game-like quality, but Laskowitz, a researcher Intel Labs, says technology could be a game changer for people living with allergies or asthma.

“This simulation shows how you might use air quality monitoring when you’re outside going for a run or taking your kid to school,” said Laskowitz.

The prototype is an example of consumer applications software developers might create using localized sensor data and data from public databases. Intel Labs has an air quality pilot project currently underway in Portland that provides real-time air quality measurements. Visualizations of the data could provide people with a better understanding of toxic exposure risks in their area, and eventually identify patterns for any given time period.

Laskowitz already created an interactive map showing pollen counts by specific species of trees based on data used in the air quality pilot. Putting that information into a smartphone app was a logical next step.

Adam Laskowitz demonstrates smartphone air quality app

"This simulation shows how you might use air quality monitoring when you're outside going for a run or taking your kid to school," said Adam Laskowitz, a researcher Intel Labs.

“We are presented with a heat map showing current air quality conditions,” said Laskowitz, tapping his smartphone to start the simulation. The video simulation fast forwards through a runner’s view of the streetscape and displays the air quality data. “We can see the air quality exposure is counting up because of the exposure zone we’re in right now,” he said.

When the video stops at an intersection, two arrows pop up on Laskowitz’s smartphone screen: one red arrow pointing forward and one that is green pointing to the right. He said, “It’s telling me that if I go straight, the air quality is bad and if I go to the right the air quality is good.”

After another few blocks the video stops again, and Laskowitz taps the arrow to that points the simulation into a poor air quality zone. As the air quality exposure reading increases, indicating a rise in pollutants, the smartphone screen begins to turn red to warn the runner that conditions are worsening.

“If you have severe allergies or asthma, this way is going to be pretty bad for you right now,” he said pointing to the red arrow on the smartphone screen.

Smartphone Gives Turn by Turn Directions to Cleaner Air

Experimental mobile app helps people plot pollution-free path.

Turn by turn directions to clearner air on smartphone

A demonstration smartphone app flashes green, yellow or red arrows to indicate the air quality in each direction so that people can easily choose routes with cleaner air.

A new demonstration smartphone app that taps into real-time air quality data could point people to the most pollution-free route to their destination.

Using an app on this smartphone that flashes green, yellow or red arrows to indicate the air quality in each direction, Adam Laskowitz navigates though a video simulation of a running course on the streets of a neighborhood in Portland, Ore.

The demonstration, one of many at the annual Research at Intel event in San Francisco, has a game-like quality, but Laskowitz, a researcher Intel Labs, says technology could be a game changer for people living with allergies or asthma.

“This simulation shows how you might use air quality monitoring when you’re outside going for a run or taking your kid to school,” said Laskowitz.

The prototype is an example of consumer applications software developers might create using localized sensor data and data from public databases. Intel Labs has an air quality pilot project currently underway in Portland that provides real-time air quality measurements. Visualizations of the data could provide people with a better understanding of toxic exposure risks in their area, and eventually identify patterns for any given time period.

Laskowitz already created an interactive map showing pollen counts by specific species of trees based on data used in the air quality pilot. Putting that information into a smartphone app was a logical next step.

Adam Laskowitz demonstrates smartphone air quality app

"This simulation shows how you might use air quality monitoring when you're outside going for a run or taking your kid to school," said Adam Laskowitz, a researcher Intel Labs.

“We are presented with a heat map showing current air quality conditions,” said Laskowitz, tapping his smartphone to start the simulation. The video simulation fast forwards through a runner’s view of the streetscape and displays the air quality data. “We can see the air quality exposure is counting up because of the exposure zone we’re in right now,” he said.

When the video stops at an intersection, two arrows pop up on Laskowitz’s smartphone screen: one red arrow pointing forward and one that is green pointing to the right. He said, “It’s telling me that if I go straight, the air quality is bad and if I go to the right the air quality is good.”

After another few blocks the video stops again, and Laskowitz taps the arrow to that points the simulation into a poor air quality zone. As the air quality exposure reading increases, indicating a rise in pollutants, the smartphone screen begins to turn red to warn the runner that conditions are worsening.

“If you have severe allergies or asthma, this way is going to be pretty bad for you right now,” he said pointing to the red arrow on the smartphone screen.