Studio LUFF's Air Quality Sensor Turns Any Wall Into an Air Quality Index Gauge

Powered by an Espressif ESP32-S3, this unobtrusive AQI meter takes readings from a Plantower PMS7003 laser PM2.5 sensor.

Pierluigi Dalla Rosa, of Californian design house studio LUFF, has launched a crowdfunding campaign for an Espressif ESP32-S3-powered air quality monitor designed to illuminate a wall based on the current air quality index (AQI).

"Air quality has been top of mind living on the west coast of California, from traffic pollution to wildfires; it has been a frequently discussed topic," Rosa explains of the project's inspiration. "I started tracking the air quality over time, and it almost became a data visualization project. Well, after a lot of tinkering and playing with sensor modules, I started to design a better air quality monitor that I could use daily."

The sensibly-named Air Quality Sensor aims to turn any wall into an AQI gauge, using a ring of LEDs. (πŸ“Ή: studio LUFF)

The resulting device is called, simply enough, the Air Quality Sensor, and takes the form of a black disc with air quality index numbers printed around its circumference β€” and increasingly-dense speckles that represent the growing amount of airborne particles detected by the sensor, a laser-based Plantower PMS7003 PM2.5 particulate matter sensor

"The visualization of AQI levels is displayed on the LED dial," Rosa explains of the display's operation, "and when the AQI levels reaches above 50, a light shows up as a notification. One other characteristic of the sensor is that [it] stores data only locally on the onboard SD Card. The Air Quality Sensor can be added to your Wi-Fi network, and a web interface can be accessed via your local network; for your privacy there are no servers, the data is stored only locally.

"You can just connect the sensor and assemble it out of the box, and it will work, but you can also customize the web interface by simply changing files on the SD Card or writing your own code in Arduino. We have included an 'extension header' that allows creative to expand the sensor board with other peripherals. The architecture, software and hardware, invites customization and the code of the sensor is going to be open-source for the backers."

"The project was developed with a lot of creative coding tools," Rosa says of the device, which is powered by an Espressif ESP32-S3 microcontroller. "Processing has been used to create a lot of the silkscreen art and helped with positioning the components on the board. There is a web interface that has some cool generative drawings on canvas. And of course most of the code is written in Arduino!"

Rosa has launched a crowdfunding campaign for the project on Kickstarter, with the Air Quality Sensor priced at $55 β€” or $62 as a bundle with USB power cable and microSD card. All hardware is expected to ship in September this year.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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