Two things drew me in. 1) Where I live in Storrington, we have a bit of a pollution problem. While it is a rural area, the village itself sits at a major crossroads and so sees heavy traffic coming from every direction every day. A study that was set up to monitor the pollution levels failed, because it relied on the local 3G network, which is another sticking point for Storrington residents. 2) The CleanSpace Tag uses a new technology called Freevolt, which I had heard about previously as a way to gather energy from out of thin air.
Conjuring energy from thin air
No really! Freevolt is able to harvest excess energy from WiFi and cellular networks. Now before anyone asks, no it doesn’t affect your WiFi or mobile phone reception. The amounts of energy we are talking about are minute and would otherwise have gone to waste anyway.
The CleanSpace Tag doesn’t need a lot of energy to keep going, so it is able to trickle charge its built in battery constantly. Which means you never have to plug it in, ever. It’s really clever stuff.
What does the CleanSpace Tag monitor?
The short answer is carbon monoxide (CO). The longer answer is, carbon monoxide, because you are able to fairly accurately track levels of other pollutants as they correlate closely with the levels of carbon monoxide. Which basically means, if you have a lot of one, then the chances are pretty high that you have a lot of the other. There is another reason of course and that is that carbon monoxide is a silent killer. It cannot be seen or smelt, but it can be lethal. So knowing when levels are high is not just nice to know, but potentially life saving!
How does it work?
When you first get your Tag you will need to install the CleanSpace app on your Android or iOS smartphone. Be sure to enable Bluetooth, as it will need that in order to synchronise with your Tag.
You can use the CleanSpace app without a CleanSpace Tag. Doing that allows you to record Green Miles, which are generated when you travel by foot, or by bicycle. You can also see a map of the pollution levels in the area. The app is free, so anyone can try it.
Obviously, when carrying your CleanSpace Tag it needs to be able to monitor the air around you. Putting it in your pocket is fine, but don’t think it will be able to do anything if you stick it inside a zipped up bag.
The Tag is slim and light, so you will hardly notice it when inside your pocket. You wouldn’t know I had one in my jacket pocket in the picture above if I hadn’t told you. Yes, for those astute movie goers reading this, that is Wolverine’s jacket!
The Tag periodically takes readings and sends them to your phone, as long as it is within Bluetooth range of course. The app then periodically sends the anonymised data to the folks at CleanSpace, so they can crowdsource real information about pollution levels around the country.
How does the app work?
Now moving on…
The Price Tag
To buy a CleanSpace Tag will cost you
£75 £49.99 (thanks to Martin Pugh for mentioning the price change). Now that may seem like a lot compared with other carbon monoxide monitors, but there are a few things to remember.
First of all it does a lot more than a simple carbon monoxide detector like the sort that you may have in your kitchen. Combined with the app, you get very detailed information on a personal level, which helps you make decisions about the way you travel and also where you travel. Some routes are simply more polluted, so avoiding them can improve your chances of a healthy life.
It never needs a new battery and is portable, so you can take it wherever you like. Again this is key in allowing the app to give you accurate data about the journeys you take and to help you make those important personal decisions regarding travel.
In the short time I have been using the CleanSpace Tag I have hardly used my car for journeys that I know are within walking distance. The app encourages you at every opportunity to think about the way you get from A to B. From displaying alerts when pollution levels get too high (very handy), to giving you Green Miles and assigning you a ranking within The Movement (there’s gamification for you), you will find yourself walking that extra mile, or cycling if you prefer. This isn’t only good for you, it is good for your pocket too. The result is that I have hardly had to refill my car and I know the Tag has therefore paid for itself several times over.