Auckland University of Technology’s BioDesign Lab, in New Zealand helped in the development of a new mask that was recently launched at CES Consumer Electronics Show in January 2020.
According to a recent press release, the mask represents a significant step in creating a highly effective, wearable air filtration technology in a year that saw New Delhi’s government declare a public health emergency due to dangerous levels of air pollution.
Research done by Master of Engineering student Bradley Nixon evaluated and validated the performance of the air filtration system for the Aō Air Atmos facemask.
Senior Lecturer Dr David White, Director of the BioDesign Lab, explained that working directly with industry is central to the Lab’s success.
Application of the research capabilities that help solve real needs keeps the lab focused on delivering innovative solutions.
It provides an opportunity for the academic staff and students to develop products that will end up addressing real-life issues.
Dan Bowden, co-founder and CEO of Aō Air, the developer of Atmos Facewear, says the work done by AUT’s BioDesign Lab was a crucial part of the journey.
Air pollution now kills more people than smoking every year.
Anyone who has endured the wildfires in Australia or California attempted to exercise during a pollution warning in Seoul, worked on a construction site in New York or danced at Burning Man knows that current technology is flawed and has not changed in more than 60 years.
About the initiative
Aō Air’s Facewear goes far beyond the capabilities of any other wearable available to provide protection from air pollution and awareness of what is in its surrounding air.
The mission is to help people live without fear of air pollution.
The revolutionised mask uses fans to draw air through a filter and pressurise the mask space in front of a user’s mouth and nose, before venting around the mask perimeter.
The research found this method provides the user with an ‘air-citadel’ of filtered air to prevent infiltration of polluted air and is compatible with more face shapes and facial features including facial hair.
Initiatives to fight air pollution
Meanwhile, an engineering team from New Zealand’s Massey University developed the Climate Air Information Real-time Network (CAIRNet) project, which is capable of using cost-effective sensors to measure carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matters, temperature, and humidity.
CAIRNet can help measure air quality, in real-time, at a large number of urban locations in a cost-effective way.
Each sensor is capable of long-range and low power communication over a network of Internet of Things (IoT) as well as short-range, high data-rate communication over Wi-Fi.
It is solar-powered, weather-resistant and designed to be easily deployed at a large number of locations.
The data collected from the sensor nodes are stored in a cloud-based server and is ultimately displayed on a web page for end-users.
In Hong Kong, the HKUST Institute for the Environment launched a new mobile app that aims to help users reduce their exposure to outdoor air pollution.
‘PRAISE-HK’, which stands for “Personalized Real-time Air-quality Informatics System for Exposure – Hong Kong”, will help build Hong Kong into a world-class smart and healthy city.
The app is a smart city app that provides state-of-the-art real-time and forecast (up to 48 hours) air quality and health risk information down to street level.
It shows Air Quality Health Index (AQHI), as well as a percentage, added short-term health risk (%AR) of daily hospital admissions attributable to criteria pollutants: nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), and sulphur dioxide (SO2).