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Worried You’re Breathing Polluted Air? There’s An App For That.

Wondering just what it is you’re inhaling? A new app should have you breathing a little easier.

image via (cc) flickr user infinitewilderness

We have smartphone apps to tell us where our friends are checking in for drinks, the best restaurant within walking distance, and even the quickest route to the nearest bathroom. But did you ever expect you’d be checking your phone to figure out the best place to take a deep breath? That’s exactly what entrepreneur Ziv Lautman would like you to do. Lautman is the co-creator of BreezoMeter, an app that tracks and displays real-time air quality reports, allowing users to see not only the cleanliness of what they’re breathing in, but also where in their city they can find cleaner, fresher air.

Lautman speaking withTech Crunch, describes BreezoMeter as part of the larger trend of apps and products designed to monitor and enhance our daily lives, explaining:

"Wearables help us to summarise [sic] our day — how much you have slept, or walked [...] Breathing and air quality should be a part of the ‘Quantified Self’ revolution; and just as wearables applications can nudge people to exercise more or watch their diets, we have granular enough data to give users helpful personalized recommendations — right down to closing the windows or putting the air conditioning on."

As Take Part points out, the initial challenge for BreezoMeter was that much of information on air quality and pollution levels is scattered across multiple agencies and research groups, each using different terminology and quality standards. By collecting and collating the disparate data available from official sources like the Environmental Protection Agency, BreezoMeter’s team of environmental engineers were able to create a sophisticated model for particle dispersal which shows – down to a street-by-street level – how contaminated air flows through a given geography. Based on that model, the app can then show users a simple, easy-to-understand report which features a numerical index and even suggests appropriate activities for that level of air quality (“Have fun with the kids outside”).

image via youtube screen capture

Currently the app is available on Android devices, with an iOS version “coming soon” according to BreezoMeter’s website. While the app only displays data for the United States, and Israel for now, it plans to expand into Asia soon – A move that makes sense given the significant problems posed by air pollution in that part of the world.

The goal, Fast Company explains, is not simply for BreezoMeter to stand alone as an end in and of itself, but to integrate its algorithmic data into other products, such as weather apps, health trackers, and even real-estate maps. Imagine, for instance, buying a house based on how well you’ll breathe once you’re there, or plotting your morning jog through your neighborhood’s best air. It’s a lens through which most people don’t see their cities, but one which may become more and more important as we better understand the way air quality affects our every day lives.

Ultimately, BreezoMeter helps give us the ability to make informed decisions about where and what we’re inhaling. That’s something that should have us all breathing a bit easier.

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