Carnegie Mellon's CREATE Lab has developed compact air and water pollution sensors that can help gather localized pollution data. The devices are affordable and portable pollution detectors that citizen scientists can use inside or outside and then have the devices automatically upload the data to the web to paint a bigger picture of air and water quality in the area.
The AirBot is a "particle counting robot" that monitors airborne pollutants that can cause breathing problems like asthma. It's pocket-sized so that people could have it on them wherever they go, keeping tabs on particulates that could cause respiratory problems. Six prototypes have already been built and the lab plans to have it ready for the market next year at a price of $99.
The WaterBot tests for water quality. One end can be dipped into a water source like a lake or stream and then it will upload pollution data to the web via a ZigBee-installed module so that everyone who lives near that water source can stay informed. According to the WaterBot website, the data is "collected at a high frequency, allowing the detection of events that are invisible to other types of sensors. The WaterBot Sensor is designed for field deployment and can be powered for up to a 12-months period on one set of batteries."
A third device called the CATTFish also tests for water quality, but is designed to be used in the tank of your toilet. It can test for the cleanliness of the water that is used to fill your bowl, which is of particular concern for those using well water.
As stated on the project's site, "A lot of people in rural Pennsylvania are being effected by the natural gas drilling. Many are afraid that the chemicals used for drilling are making their way into the ground water.
So the CATTFish is designed to sit on top of your toilet while the sensor sits inside the tank. When you touch the capacitive touch sensor, it takes a water temperature and conductance reading and shows you it on the display. Using temperature and conductance, you can derive TDS and an overall quality of the water."
The information can then be uploaded to your computer via USB.
Watch the video below to hear more about the devices.