Traffic Lights for Air Pollution

This project aims to develop and produce tools for the visualization of air quality and thus generate awareness of exposure to invisible agents (in instance, toxic gases such as CO2, NO2, VCOs) that affect the health of people and living beings in contaminated environments. Cities are a focus of attention due to its high levels of pollution from different sources, especially for the excessively using of cars in mobility and industrial waste, both of them liberate many of these kind of gases in the air. In consequence, we are exposed to polluted air in our daily lives meanwhile we walk the streets and avenues of cities with these agents in the atmosphere.

The air pollution traffic light offers, in real time, a luminous focus that changes colours (red, orange, yellow, green) in based on the saturation of toxic gases in the air. The rate of pollution is represented by the colours of a traffic light in an approachable universal language for anyone to become aware of their environment. With this project we are interested in questioning the environmental crisis that demands immediate access to information about the pollution status in the urban space for the passer-by.

In this way, several air pollution’s traffic light (open hardware prototypes) have been developed from workshops, where we are assembled various models and using them in urban drifts. The main idea is to generate reflection on environmental matters from playful urban objects that reflect in real time the presence of pollution in the air.


Taller. Piksel KIDZ: city GO. Bergen Noruega


As part of the 16th PIKSEL festival for electronic art and free technologies. a workshop was held on the assembly of traffic lights for air pollution at PikselKidZ. The intention of the festival with this space is to approach children to technology from art and hacktivism, in a creative and playful way, offering free workshops with artists, scientists and hackers to schools and the general public in the piksel studio. In this way, this version was designed in the form of «kit» where the children easily assembled the traffic light as a soft toy. During the process they learned not only about the air quality of the cities and its implications but also a little of computing and electronics. After that we went to the center of Bergen with the traffic lights for air pollution, observing in real time their reactions to different environments in the city. This model uses an Arduino micro pro, and the gas sensor SGP30 (VOCs and eCO2).

Taller de ensamblaje. CCD (Centro de Cultura Digital). México DF


During a week in November 2014, we were assembled a series of «air pollution’s traffic lights» as part of a program of ecodesign workshops, organized by central verde and the digital culture center (centro de cultura digital CCD) in Mexico City.

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Version 2.0. Londres


Este prototipo fue desarrollado en el LondonHackSpace e hizo parte de la exposición «Elephant and Mini Maker Faire» en el London Collage of Communication. En esta oportunidad el semáforo de polución uso el mismo circuito de la versión 1 aunque  siendo más delgado y más eficiente con mejoras en el código. Como parte de la exposición se probó caminando alrededor de la glorieta de elephant and castle en la zona sur-este de la ciudad de Londres. PLT version 2 – Exhibition. Maker faire. London UK


Version 1. Bogotá


This first prototype was developed thinking about the high levels of air pollution in the city of Bogotá. A circuit was modeled using an atmega8-16 microcontroller and a mq135 sensor that detects gases such as NOx, CO2, alcohol, benzene and smoke. Imitating the traffic lights of the city, it was situated for several hours in various parts of the city, mainly the most polluted.