Area’s Immediate Reading

This afternoon Brooke Singer was at Conflux to present Preemptive Media‘s latest work: AIR [Area’s Immediate Reading].

AIR is a portable air monitoring devices to explore the urban environments for pollution and fossil fuel burning hotspots. I first thought that the devices were a bit bulky but Brooke Singer explained me that air has to circulate inside it so the openings have to be quite wide. Besides the size and shape of the devices gives them the look of a viewmaster. They are light enough to be carried easily at hip level or around the neck and taken around for people or “carriers” to see in real time pollutant levels in their neighbourhood, as well as measurements from the other AIR devices in the network.


The devices are equipped with a sensor that contains a gas sensing chips that detects carbon monoxide and another chip that spots nitrogen oxides. An on-board GPS unit and digital compass, combined with a database of known pollution sources such as power plants and heavy industries, allow carriers to see their distance from polluters and other AIR devices.

In addition, the devices regularly transmit data to a central database allowing for real time data visualization online. While AIR is designed to be a tool for individuals and groups to self identify pollution sources, it also serves as a platform to discuss energy politics and their impact on environment, health and social groups in specific regions.

Related: Myriel Milicevic‘s Neighbourhood Satellites.

Also by Preemptive Media (Beatriz da Costa, Jamie Schulte and Brooke Singer): Tokyo RFID map and Swipe.