What if your five senses included the ability to detect carbon monoxide, methane gas and smoke? What if you could record and upload your exposure to these elements to a network of other users? What if this beautifully nerdy network could help us determine the collective burden of toxic exposure? Well design student Joe Saavedra is making all of these scenarios a reality with his thesis – a unit called Modular||Neuroid. This crazy contraption is a wearable sensor unit that uploads its data onto pachube, a kind of info-collection network.

The guts of M||N include the open-source sensory platform Arduino, Adafruit’s GPSshield, and a sensor bay designed by Saavedra. Measurable inputs include noise and light pollution, methane gas, secondhand smoke, carbon monoxide and alcohol! The unit is designed to be wearable in an armband or gear pouch like an iPod. It currently has a test feed up on pachube, an international network of data sensors. Both M||N and pachube are in Beta and Saavedra is still tweaking the enclosure and working on the software while data uploads to pachube are currently by invitation only. Still, the implications for science and data collection are tremendous. What if this next hot gadget could also help us determine our collective chemical load?

Saavedra is aware of the exciting implications. He’s currently exploring the use of Modular||Neuroid to measure indoor air pollution, record exposure of union workers in industrial environments, and determine real-time effects of pollution on asthmatic children. His past projects include a heartbeat-responding EKG Hoodie. Looking forward to future combinations of style and nerdery.

+ Joe Saavedra