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Mindful Droid - Bringing Awareness and Change to Air Pollution Levels: Part 1

The idea behind the Mindful Droid was to improve the behaviours of drivers behind the wheel and help reduce the emissions they let out, causing them to become more mindful/conscious drivers.

With in-depth research, I discovered some practicality issues and possible distractions the device could bring in the vehicle whilst driving, for example, during a school run rush. The aim is to have a safe, yet informative, device that brings about change with my focus area being around school areas and commutes.

With this information, I have been able to address this issue from a different and safer angle.

I carried out a survey to better understand what parents know about Air Pollution - following on from my case study on Ella Kissi the School girl that died from Air Pollution - Article.

The intention is to use the result to drive inspiration for the final outcome and actions of the Mindful Droid.

From the survey, I found that not many parents are aware or even think about Air pollution levels. They are not aware of what is happening to the air they breathe in and this is the least of their worries. The survey carried below out shows results from my son’s school.

Air Pollution Survey

The lack of detailed information and education on Air-pollution is an issue. From my experience and the survey responses, there is a need for action to make it more visible and inclusive to grasp everyone's attention rather than relying on a national event like COP26 or activist protests to trigger some change.

We can also argue that it has to do with a class barrier and that should not be the case. Everyone should have access to data and understand the effects of Air Pollution and how to tackle it respectively.

The effect of air pollution does not only affect people suffering from asthma or breathing conditions, moreover, it's the long-lasting effects we should also be concerned about. Survey Report

Survey - does knowing these levels matter to you?

Based on the accumulated results from the survey, the Mindful Droid will be a visually informative and educating device to raise awareness and bring the reality of air pollution around school areas and commutes. It will not be invasive but a subtle constant reminder of the effects of emissions and actions to help reduce them. Psychologically, this would lead to taking positive actions and changing behaviours subconsciously with the information absorbed.

The Mindful Droid is set to be proactive and not reactive to air pollution and if the information is repeated enough the mind will subconsciously take it in.

Issues Around School

A fact uncovered is that most pollutants around schools (from Car emissions) are dense and tend to accumulate at around the <1m height which is right at the height of most school children aged 6 -11 years old. The <1m smog issue - will also have an effect on pets e.g dogs, cats and this is likely a very emotive subject. Homeless people are also likely to be at this level if sleeping around the busy city/town streets.

Pollution around schools

Traffic Congestion around the school area during peak pickup times.

Focus

The design focus for the Mindful Droid is to lend a voice for the next generation (children) and bring awareness and change to parents and other adults that are currently in world’s driving seat.
The Mindful droid is a passive way of encouraging activism amongst school children on their school commutes. This will help bring visual awareness towards the effects of Air Pollution and how to prevent it.

For the children we can view the Mindful Droid as a life saving companion.

The focus areas for the Mindful droid are;

  1. Track Air quality, Make hardware/software and data open-source - Unlike Dyson Backpack where data is kept private. Able to correspond with real-time Air Quality API Data.
  2. Inform and Educate - Through Visibility of Information, improvement can be made on drivers’ behaviour such as turning off the engine (instead of idling), not driving close to school, walking/cycling to school etc.
  3. Take Action - This will allow the school and council authorities to be alerted to deploy traffic officers around the school area. Control of Traffic Congestion and also being able to Enforce the no-car zone rule effectively based on data collected from Air pollution levels.
  4. Clear and understandable display Information that communicates with its demographic, whilst continuously corresponding to concurrent air-pollution change levels.
  5. A fun interactive way to capture children and parents attention and imagination towards areas that matter (Air Pollution Levels)

Design Prototype

Designing Mindful Droid Prototype

Mindful Droid - Prototype Stage

PCB Design Stage and Conceptualisation

PCB Design Stage - Layout

PCB Design

PCB Design Stage Conception

Instruction details on the design-build process, and materials to follow.

Follow me in Part 2 of this project exploring further how I bring the Mindful Droid to Life.

Michael is an Industrial Design Engineer, Maker and winner of the Young Innovators Award 2021, with over 9 years experience working in various industry sectors. Having a problem solving background, he is always enthusiastic about finding solutions to problems that challenge everyday living. His key focus points are inclusivity, functionality with consciousness, and sustainability.
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