Sensors in wearables will help runners find less polluted routes, US start-up claims
Runners and pedestrians in China’s choked metropolises and other polluted cities around the world will soon be able to plan their routes in a way that best avoids high pollution levels using sensors developed by an American start-up.
Formed in late 2012, Spec-Sensors uses electrochemical sensors to monitor levels of carbon monoxide and other gases and particulate matter. The company is working on reducing the size of its sensors so they can be used in wearables.
It is seeking funding in Asia and hopes to have its sensors embedded in such gadgets within a year or so. The company said it is looking forward to working with app developers. It began turning a profit 18 months ago.
The sensor "can show you real-time your CO levels, [sulphur dioxide]] levels, what’s going on around you, and you can make an intelligent decision [as to] ‘should I run or not run’,” said Marc Papageorge, the company’s VP for product development and implementation.
Each year, more than 4 million people die globally from inhaling second-hand smoke and polluted air, Papageorge said, adding that an additional 25 million suffer medical problems related to poor air quality.
He said sports manufacturers and fitness tracker firms in the US have expressed interest in incorporating the sensors into their products.
Spec-Sensors has already reduced the price of its original sensors from US$150, and plans to further lower this to US$5 per unit after more investment and increased production, the company said.
The sensors measure 15 mm by 15 mm, but the company is working to reduce their size to 5 mm by 5 mm, which would expand their application, it said.
Spec-Sensors’ products can also be used to test the air quality inside smart homes, and the overall air quality for smart cities, Papageorge said.
Moreover, the sensors can be used to check alcohol levels by testing for formaldehyde, as well as warning users if they have bad breath.
Papageorge said he expects apps and gadgets featuring the sensors could prove a hit in China as well as in developed countries in Europe.
They can also be mounted on drones to test the air quality across a larger area, he added.
The company’s products will be used as part of a smart cities project in London later this year, said Papageorge, declining to go into detail.
The Silicon Valley based start-up aims to raise US$10 million in Series A funding.