Thursday, November 12, 2009

iPhone as an Environmental Monitoring Tool

As more and more add-ons such as this get developed, educators, entrepreneurs - really anyone - will find great utility for an already useful device. Imagine a class of environmental science students in the field, collecting and recording pollution and GPS data.

NASA brings chemical sensor to iPhone:
If you are in need of finding out if there is ammonia, chlorine gas or methane in the air around you, there’s an iPhone app for that. A researcher at NASA's Ames Research Center has developed what NASA calls a proof of concept of new technology that would bring compact, low-cost, low-power, high-speed nanosensor-based chemical sensing capabilities to cell phones.

The device NASA researcher Jing Li developed is about the size of a postage stamp and fits in the iPhone to collect, process, and transmit sensor data, NASA said. The device senses chemicals in the air using a ‘sample jet’ and a multiple-channel silicon-based sensing chip, which consists of 16 nanosensors, and sends detection data to another phone or a computer via telephone communication network or Wi-Fi.

Li along with researchers working under the Cell-All program in the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate developed the app.

Cell-All is designed to provide greater chemical detection capabilities in cell phones. Cell phone owners could use their phone’s GPS to provide sensor location information to emergency operation centers, NASA stated.

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