Dyson’s new backpack will measure London air quality

At its core, Dyson is an air company, making vacuums, hand dryers and pricy hair dryers. The company is also planning to jump into wearables with a pair of headphones that double as an air purifier.

For now, Dyson is going in a different wearable direction. The company has announced that it’s building a backpack that will monitor the air children breathe as they go to and from school. The device is part of a study by King’s College London, Greater London Authority and C40’s Breathe London initiative that will measure London’s air quality, specifically for inner-city kids.

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Dyson’s purifying fans and heaters already have monitoring technology that can sense particulates, nitrogen dioxide and VOC to continually monitor air quality. The company has now re-worked those sensors to fit in a sensor box that’s placed into a special backpack. It also has a rechargeable battery pack that can help capture a week’s worth of data.

As for looks, it looks like a standard school backpack – but with a vent in the back that will suck in the air for sensors to analyze. There’s also space for a water bottle and a cute patch that says “I am an air quality scientist”.

The sensors can detect PM2.5 ultrafine particles that can penetrate deep in your respiratory system and blood, PM10 particles (like pollen, dust and allergens), nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide.

Five London schools will participate in the study, including Marner Primary School, Charlotte Sharman Primary School, East Sheen Primary School, Haimo Primary School and Lordship Lane Primary School. Over 250 children aged 8 to 11 will take part in the study.

Improving air quality has been one of London mayor Sadiq Khan’s priorities in 2019, and Paul Dawson, VP of health and beauty at Dyson, points out that children can take up to 30,000 breaths a day. Thus, there’s no better place to start than children who could be the most vulnerable to bad air quality.

On a larger level, this is one of the biggest companies in the game jumping into wearables. And thanks to rumors of a face mask, it’s not hard to see that the company could expand in the future. We could see a future where it becomes easy for Dyson to make its sensors small enough to fit into a face mask, for instance.

Dyson's new backpack will measure London air quality

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