Image via DOCOMO
Japanese mobile company DOCOMO has decided to delve into the world of environmental sensing using its mobile network. It has launched a pilot program to measure pollen, carbon dioxide (CO2), ultraviolet (UV) sunlight and other atmospheric conditions that affect humans in the area. The information will then be sold off to companies that have a stake in how healthy citizens are - or at least want to be - such as pharmaceutical companies, healthcare institutions and municipal governments. Using the existing mobile network, which already covers the majority of Japan, DOCOMO will install sensors - starting with 300 in December and expanding to 2,500 by the end of 2010 - that will first pick up data on pollen in the atmosphere, and then move on to other particles and gasses, such as CO2, depending on what companies ask for information on various contaminants.
It's yet another way that mobile networks can be used to track environmental concerns, but illustrates even more how mobile companies can leverage their networks for ever expanding possible uses. For instance, Nokia is expanding into smart homes, and AT&T; has offered utilities the use of its mobile network for smart grid data transmission.
Cell phones themselves are being used more as environmental sensors as well, such as with Google tracking traffic patterns using your phone in order to help alleviate highway congestion and therefore pollutants. And concept devices abound like La Montre Verte wrist band which senses environmental data and sends updates via mobile phones.
It seems that when it comes to detecting what's in the air around us, mobile networks as well as devices will play increasingly prominent roles.