In the autumn and winter seasons, the haze often hangs over the capital. Accompanying smog is often the high concentration of pollutants PM2.5. There are 35 official air quality monitoring points on the 16,000 square kilometers of Beijing. However, is it more convenient if you have a small box in your hand that can reflect the air quality around you and guide your outdoor activities?
As a "maker" on the campus, Li Yinhe and his classmates at the Academy of Fine Arts of Tsinghua University designed an "air box" that can monitor the air quality around them at any time and display it instantly on the box and their mobile app software. Recently, this "air box" was officially unveiled at the main exhibition of Beijing International Design Week. The Li Yin team received an angel investment of 150,000 yuan. The first batch of products will also be shipped in the near future.
The origin of the experiment: facing the air pollution in Beijing
"Maker" is a word that has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is derived from the English "Maker" and refers to people who strive to transform various ideas into reality. Many products with a high social value or huge economic value, such as low-cost 3D printers, have created their own customers. Li Yin and his classmates are a group of "Makers" at Tsinghua University. These students from different majors such as industrial design, electronic engineering, software engineering and so on, can always burst out some creative "sparks".
Li Yin said that the idea of â€‹â€‹"Air Box" came from a project "brainstorming" in May this year. He just met the first grade of graduate student and met a group of like-minded classmates, they participated in a maker activity together. Sitting around to discuss what projects to do, Li Yin thought of the smog in Beijing, "No one can avoid air pollution, but there are only 35 PM2.5 monitoring points in Beijing. From the perspective of serving the public, I think density cannot Meet the needs of the public. A household air quality monitoring box will be more targeted for personal life travel. "
Li Yin said that at the time, he had such an idea: to be a "creator", let's start from facing the air quality in Beijing.
Road to experiment: cross-border cooperation to overcome difficulties
After identifying ideas with their partners, they quickly started designing and experimenting. If you do nâ€™t know it, you will find that it â€™s not difficult to try. â€œWe do nâ€™t have any hardware product development experience at all.â€ Li Yin said that he studied design and designed the â€œair boxâ€ into a column structure from an aesthetic point of view. However, after communicating with students in the electronics department, it was found that the implementation was too difficult: the column-shaped structure meant that the integrated circuit board inside had to be made into a three-dimensional stack, and the risk of unstable operation of sensors and circuits and manufacturing costs would increase significantly.
In addition to the shape, what kind of material to choose is also a big problem faced by these "makers". Not only must they maintain high strength, but also be light, and more importantly, the box made of this material must be able to cut out many vents to ensure Enough air enters the box to facilitate monitoring. In addition, how to accurately capture fine particles with a particle size of 2.5 microns or less is also a big problem in front of Li Yin.
Although the team members have different professional backgrounds such as industrial design, electronic engineering, and software engineering, the Li Yin team still feels that knowledge is not enough. They ask students from other majors everywhere, "What kind of sensor is more suitable, we will ask Students from the School of Environmental Sciences have provided us with good suggestions. "Li Yin said that in the end they determined that the way to measure air quality is based on the principle that light is scattered in the aerosol, using a laser to irradiate the gas, Furthermore, the number of particles in the air is calculated according to the intensity of scattered light. "Although the accuracy cannot be compared with the micro-oscillation balance method used by the national air quality monitoring agency, it is enough to meet the daily needs of citizens.
Throughout the summer, Li Yin and his companions were in the laboratory. In a laboratory on the fifth floor of the Teaching Building of the Academy of Fine Arts of Tsinghua University, behind a computer monitor with dual monitors is a sofa about 2 meters long. Li Yin said that sometimes it was too late to do experiments and discuss plans, so I just "made up" one night on the sofa and woke up the next day to continue the experiment. At the end of the summer vacation, the first generation prototype was finally born.
Experimental effect: APP shows air quality
In Li Yin's laboratory, the reporter saw the "air box" sample model. The white box, the size of an ordinary home router, can be easily placed on a window sill or a car's driving platform. There is a row of indicators on the top panel of the box, and the base is densely distributed with small holes with a diameter of about 2 mm. "The air enters through those small holes and is captured by the sensor. The current air quality is calculated by the microchip. Then show through the row of lights. "
Li Yin said that according to the newly released "Ambient Air Quality Standards", the air quality index AQI is divided into six levels, expressed in six colors. Therefore, the indicators on the "air box" are also given according to the AQI range, with green, yellow, orange, red, purple, and brown representing the air quality is excellent, good, light pollution, moderate pollution, heavy pollution, and severe Pollution.
Looking at the air quality, not only through the indicator on the "box", but also through your own mobile phone. Li Yin said that they installed a Bluetooth transmission device for the "air box", and the air quality data can be seen on the APP software installed on the mobile phone, "The machine itself can store data for about a year, and we have also established a cloud through the wireless network. Storage, the data can be stored for about 20 years, as long as you can see it online. "Li Yin said, looking back at the current data after 20 years, you should be able to see a huge improvement in Beijing's air quality.
Future plans: second-generation products are small and cheap
Li Yin told reporters that the first batch of 500 "air boxes" will be completed this week. After they are shipped to Beijing, they will be distributed to include university students, environmental enthusiasts and public welfare organizations for trial, so that the team can get the most realistic user experience feedback. After that, they will further improve the product. "In fact, we have started the research and development of the second generation product. The shape will emphasize the miniaturization and portability, and the size should be reduced by half."
To develop the "air box", the Li Yin team received an angel investment of 150,000 yuan. Li Yin said that in the future, the "air box" is definitely going to the market, but the price will not be too expensive. "The cost of the first generation product will be controlled within 300 yuan. It will be cheaper in the future, and ordinary families can fully afford it." He admitted that the monitoring accuracy of the "air box" must not be the highest, but it is enough to give the user an intuitive understanding of the air quality. "Seeing the lights turn red and brown, you choose to reduce outdoor stays, choose to wear masks, and choose green. Travel is enough. "
Recently, Tsinghua University launched the â€œMakerâ€ project in the school. Every semester, two top â€œMakersâ€ from home and abroad are stationed in the school, participating in the creative product project as an instructor or co-creator. The facilities inside will also be open to "Makers" like Li Yin. "News students join the channel to promote, law school students do intellectual property protection, and the" spring "of the three-dimensional college student laboratory is coming." Li Yin said.
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