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Wearable chemical sensors for public health-based business models

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - WoRShIP (Wearable chemical sensors for public health-based business models)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2019-10-01 do 2020-09-30

Large scale monitoring of greenhouse gases (GhG) and gaseous pollutants is no longer a purely scientific concern but is present in many areas of daily human life. The GhGs methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) along with air pollutants like nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), and ozone (O3) are fundamental parameters for health and well-being of the general population. Commercially available state-of-the–art in-situ sensors fail to strike the balance between reasonable investment and necessary accuracy for larger scale monitoring, especially for GhG sensors. Satellite-platforms suffer from inherent drawbacks, which also future missions cannot overcome. These include limited spatial resolution and low temporal coverage due to cloud cover and revisit times and can result in major artefacts. However, currently no technologies are available for high resolution, large-scale monitoring that could enable the quantification of trace gas concentrations at relevant temporal and/or spatial scales, which would enable the design of efficient mitigation and prevention strategies against exposure to polluted air.

The impact of air pollution results in serious adverse health effects and causes about 92,000 premature deaths per year in Europe (EU-28, only NO2 and O3), with the number of related illnesses estimated to be at least one order of magnitude higher. Moreover, exposure to and evolution of trace gas concentrations is now recognized as a central knowledge gap in many areas spanning from air quality to next generation agriculture and safety applications.

WoePal GmbH possesses a disruptive photoacoustic gas detection technology that can enable this type of measurements by using miniaturized, highly selective and sensitive, low-cost gas analyser systems. Due to the reduced size, weight, and prize, WoePal is in a unique position to produce wearable, low-power consuming gas analysers with unrivalled performance.
Based on this the goal of the IA’s project is to enable the construction of large-scale gas sensor networks by massive rollout of personal pollution exposure devices worn by individuals thus acting as mobile gas-sensing nodes. Based on the basic sensorial hardware the use sensor network technology to develop an innovative, transferable solution for large-scale deployment of sensors in metropolitan and urban areas is planned. The high-quality information will allow for developing tailor-made intelligent, cost efficient strategies to mitigate impact of air pollution in urban areas. The IA shall leverage his experience to work on a technological solution and design an innovation strategy to bring this solution to the market.
The project’s duration of one year has been used to accomplish the technological and training goals of the proposal. The technological task of the Innovation Associate consisted of developing innovative, transferable solution for large-scale deployment of sensors using NO2 as a tracer gas and to highlight the potential of WoePal’s gas sensing technology.
The task of the Innovation Associate consisted of developing innovative, transferable solution for large-scale deployment of sensors. In the frame of the WorShip project, this consists in using personal pollution exposure devices worn by individuals - thus acting as mobile gas-sensing nodes in metropolitan and urban areas where the impact of air pollutants on human health is greatest. Developing innovative applications for wearable sensors encompasses both, technical innovations in terms of data measurements, monitoring, processing, and visualization as well as deriving new business models which harness the new opportunities. Four main tasks of the Innovation Associate with associated milestones are highlighted and have been achieved in the frame of WorShip:
• T1 : Development of a software framework/cloud-based data platform
Milestone: Operational Software Platform
• T2 : Create showcase application
Milestone : Showcase project with pollution mapping
• T3 : Draft and implementation of an innovation strategy
Milestone: Innovation Strategy
• T4 : Increase the network of partners and clients, discover options of future funding
Milestone: Acquisition of funding and/or research projects with other partners
A modular software framework was designed by the Innovation Associate which consists of a full-stack web-application. This includes a relational backend database (PostGreSQL with PostGIS extension for spatial queries and functions), a web server with API based on Flask (a web-framework written in Python) and data visualization employing Flask and Dash. Because Flask and Dash framework are using Python, data processing and modelling in Python can be easily embedded and performed at run-time. Containerized software deployment using Docker allows to install the application on a single device at the edge as well as horizontal scaling in cloud services.
In order to highlight the capabilities of the software platform, a simulation was developed. It assumes a set of 1000 person using wearables during July 2018 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Each person with a sensor is assumed to move about the city in random manner (Brownian motion) during the whole-time. Each virtual sensor takes a measurement every 10 minutes, which leads to a total number of 4,464,000 individual measurements. Each measurement consists of a value for temperature, pressure, relative humidity and NO2 concentrations.
Several funding opportunities presented itself during the frame of the WorShip project. These consists of application to national funding as well as an application for an international project in the frame of the EU Eurostars funding. This has been competed successfully with the granting of national funding.
The project has combined a novel gas sensing technology with IoT technologies to provide a new kind of health service by providing real-time mapping of air quality on a large scale and at low cost. The mobile sensing device are connected to an internet platform and allow for real-time monitoring with a high spatial resolution. The data provided can help local authorities to devise strategies for pollution reduction and mitigating adverse effects on public health. Taking into account the unique sensing capabilities of the NO2 sensor with ultra-low detection limit in the low ppb range, this given the solution a unique selling point and a technological edge over other techniques.
The project did already show the expected impacts in terms of further funding for maturing the technology and by devising an innovation strategy that will shorten the time to market considerably. Among the most notable potential impacts is the improvement of public health by providing a comprehensive monitoring solution.