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Squirrel: Serious Games Monitoring Air Quality

Squirrel (left) samples air pollutants and sends data to a cell phone, which in turn transmits data to a centralized database

Via: Open The Future - Green Panopticon Begins by Jamais Cascio

UC San Diego's Shannon Spanhake has come up with a small pollution monitor built to send data to cell phones. She calls it Squirrel.

Squirrel fits in the palm of your hand and can be clasped to a belt or purse. The small, battery-powered mobile device can sample pollutants with its on-chip sensor.

The current prototype measures carbon monoxide and ozone, but eventually the device will be able to sample nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide in the air, as well as temperature, barometric pressure and humidity.

It’s what happens next that makes Squirrel a powerful tool in the fight against pollution. Using a Bluetooth wireless transmitter, the device connects to the user’s cell phone. A software program called Acorn allows the user to see the current pollution alerts through a screensaver on the cell phone’s display. 

The phone also periodically transmits the environmental data to a public database on the Internet operated by the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), which is funding Squirrel’s development.

Prior references to the emerging participatory panopticon, also by Jamais Cascio, may be found at WorldChanging, under the post Earth Witness.