Air Quality Egg
The Air Quality Egg (AQE) is an Open source hardware Internet of Things platform and hobbyist device for crowdsourced citizen monitoring of airborne pollutants. The device won widespread recognition when it was named a Best of Kickstarter 2012 project, and has been featured in newspaper, magazine, peer-reviewed scientific journal and prominent blog articles. Crowdsourced data from citizen owners of the devices is uploaded to Xively where it becomes publicly accessibly on the Air Quality Egg website. The device is supported by 3rd party mobile apps such as Acculation's AQCalc.
The AQE grew out of Internet of Things meetup groups in New York City and Amsterdam, led by Pachube evangelist Ed Borden. WickedDevice LLC, the company that manufacturers and sells the AQE off its website, is a tech start-up headquartered in Ithaca, NY. There are two versions of the device: an Arduino shield for use by hobbyists, and a more consumer-ready "hobbyist kit" device. The latter consists of two identical-looking plastic enclosures vaguely resembling white eggs. One unit, the base unit, is connected to the user's ethernet LAN connection. The second unit monitors NO2 and CO levels and reports these readings every few minutes back to the base unit via a custom wireless protocol. The base unit, in term, reports these readings to Xively and the AQE website. Add-ons are available for purchase off the website that add PM2.5 dust, Ozone, and VOC sensors.
Despite being labelled a not-consumer-ready "hobbyist" device by the manufacturer, the AQE is one of the few de facto commercially available, comprehensive Internet of Things pollution monitors on the US market. A number of competing devices have been announced, such as the Chemisense Wearable in the US or the Alima in France, but these do not appear to be commercially available in the US at time of writing. CitizenSensor is another US crowdsourced air quality monitoring device, but it is listed an "outgoing project", "DIY", and apparently not available for purchase. In terms of a comprehensive Internet of Things air pollution monitoring solution, the most direct competitor may be China's iKair (pronounced "I Care"), although this uses a closed, proprietary platform rather than the AQE's open source hardware and open data design. Unfortunately, at time of writing the iKair's companion smartphone app does not appear to be available in English or for download in the US. IBM recently announced a partnership with the government of China for analytics software to process data from pollution sensors, so both the software and hardware aspects of this market may be heating up. A major potential criticism of the AQE is that it is still a hobbyist device despite the appearance of consumer-ready packaging. In an effort to get these devices to end-users more quickly, the AQE's sensors have not yet been fully calibrated by the manufacturer. No doubt these issues will be addressed as more competing devices enter the market.
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