The Roomba vaccuming robot is pretty cool--how many other robots or vaccums are there that will roam around your rooms cleaning up, without you needing to control it? However, turns out with a little modding, it has more uses than just cleaning or giving your cat a ride. With a bit of modding, the Roomba can also detect changes in the room's air quality.
The project was carried out by researchers from the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS) using the little vaccum, plus some LED lights and sensors. While the Roomba is roaming the room, sensors will constantly test for changes in the air. When it detects changes in the atmosphere, the LED lights go from green to blue--check out the long-exposure image above for an example of how a room patrol looks.
For testing purposes, the team used alcohol in the rooms, however PLOTS hopes to add sensors for other types of Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC), particularly Formaldehyde, both a common odor and harmful pollutant. This, the team believes, would be more effective than having a stationary room detector, which may not pick up on all chemicals passing through a room.
The Roomba mod has potential to be a really useful household item for those concerned about their air quality. What could make it even better is perhaps an alarm to alert tenants of harmful substances in the air--a light isn't always noticeable, especially if you aren't in the same room as the Roomba.
Read more about the mod and its tests on PLOTS' website.
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