For years, scientists have talked about putting sensors into cell phones to be able to collect environmental data on everything from air pollution levels to radiation levels. The collection of sensors placed all over would round up data that stationary sensors just can't get. However, actually getting sensors into cell phones is a bit harder -- even if you want one in your own phone to sense environmental data for yourself, it's not so easy. At least not until now.
Sensordrone is a Kickstarter project that has already received nearly double its funding goal, sitting at $41,000 with 38 days left to keep fundraising. It's clear that there is a serious interest in the ability to sense environmental data in your own environment. And this tool can sense so many things, including gasses, temperatures, humidity and more. Essentially the tool pairs with your smart phone and you run an app while testing for a particular thing:
"Everything is included in the Sensordrone's sleek & compact metal/plastic housing. No configuration is required. Just run an app, and it works. There are no switches or dials to adjust. You don't have to buy new sensors to do anything shown in the video. Just run an app. Truly a major extension of your mobile device, everything is controlled by the app. Here are just 6 apps that we're already running with our Sensordrones."
Also, the application level software is open source, so anyone can come up with a new way to use the sensors available on the Sensordrone.
The popularity of the project makes it clear that not only are people excited about running sensors for various needs, but also the potential for citizen science projects. For example, Sensordrone's Kickstarter page notes how it could be useful for understanding air quality:
"The government can tell you that the air quality is good based on data collected at their monitoring stations, but unless you live next to such a station, they can't tell you what the air quality is where you live. The air quality where you are may be very different, especially if you're near a highway, an industrial facility, or even just in a parking garage. Crowd sourced data from Sensordrone users can dramatically expand the existing pollution/Air quality and weather station network, potentially leading to improved health and better weather forecasting."
Imagine if this ability were linked up to an organized project recording air quality all over a city, to truly understand in macro detail what we're breathing in at different locations during a walk or bike commute. Kinda amazing.
Here is more about Sensordrone, and if you're interested in getting one for yourself, check out the Kickstarter page.