Measuring Fine Dust Concentration via Smartphone
Measurement System for Mobile End Devices to Compile a Pollution Map
Big cities in the smog: Photos from Beijing and, more recently, Paris clearly illustrate the extent of fine dust pollution. But what about our direct environment? What is the pollution concentration near our favorite jogging route? Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are developing a sensor that can be connected easily to smartphones. In the future, users are to take part in drawing up a pollution map via participatory sensing. The precision of the map will be the higher, the more people will take part.
The principle of fine dust measurements using a smartphone corresponds to that of simple optical sensors. “Instead of the conventional infrared LED in the sensor, the flashlight of the smartphone emits light into the measurement area. This light is scattered by the possibly existing dust or smoke. The camera serves as a receptor and takes a picture representing the measurement result. The brightness of the pixels can then be converted into the dust concentration,” computer scientist Matthias Budde explains. He has developed the system as a member of the research group TECO of KIT’s Chair for Pervasive Computing.
Excellent Research at the Ceramics Workshop
Novel Nanostructured Materials for Batteries, Catalysts, and Filters
Ceramic vases and battery electrodes serve different purposes, but have an important production step in common: Only at very high temperatures are they given their excellent properties. For this reason, the chemist Andrew P. Vogt of KIT uses the kilns of the Majolika Ceramics Manufactory in Karlsruhe for his materials research project. He applies tailored plastic molecules to develop prototypes of nanostructured carbon materials for bat-tery electrodes or chemical catalysts.
“For my research, it is sheer luck that the kilns of the Majolika are located just around the corner of the campus,” Andrew Vogt brims with enthusiasm. Already during his Ph. D. phase he developed processes to generate small structures in materials. Nanostructured materials may be applied as filters to clean contaminated water or as chemical catalysts. They might also be suited for batteries or electronics. Carbon rich materials can be nanostructured as well, where even thin samples do not tear and are easy to modify chemically.
Software Tracks Trackers
KIT Students Develop a Software to Search Websites for Trackers
Every internet surfer knows the phenomenon: When accessing a news portal, links to offers, videos, images, and advertisements of mail order companies, utilities, or airlines open up simultaneously. They appear to fit exactly to the PC user. Who investigates our interests and preferences in the web? The software developed by students of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) makes these “data trackers” and third-party providers visible and shows to which countries our data are sent.
Where do my data go? The "BackTrack" software developed by KIT students illustrates that. Photo: KIT/ITM-DSN
Whoever accesses a website will not only download the data of this site, but also contents, by means of which third parties can analyze the user, his personal data, and his behavior on the internet. A team of six KIT students of informatics has now studied this topic with particular attention being paid to the private sphere of users on the internet.
From KIT’s Geophysical Institute to the ISS
ESA Astronaut Alexander Gerst will join Expedition 40/41
He will be the eleventh German in space: On May 28, Alexander Gerst, astronaut of the European Space Agency ESA, will leave for the International Space Station ISS together with the American Reid Wiseman and the Russian Maxim Suraev.
Gerst, who is 38 years old, studied at the then University of Karlsruhe. In 2003, he was conferred his diploma by the Geophysical Institute. For a period of six months, he will work on the ISS as a technician and scientist during the expeditions 40 and 41, about 400 km above the Earth. Gerst will be the third German astronaut living and working on board of the ISS. He will conduct scientific experiments in the European Columbus Laboratory and perform maintenance and repair work as a flight engineer. The astronaut still loves to remember his studies at the Geophysical Institute of the then University of Karlsruhe: “Karlsruhe marked the start of my scientific career. There, I learned to conduct scientific work and to do research. It was a great time. I highly profited from the education in Karlsruhe and I am very grateful for it. I still very much like to remember that time.”