Device Transforms Air Pollution into Digital Artworks


With Digioxide, a person can analyze their surrounding air quality by taking a 'snapshot' of environmental data

Charlie Stephens
  • 29 july 2014

Each year, more than 1 billion people are exposed to outdoor air pollution. It has been linked to various health complications and even decreased economic production. Its effects on society are widespread, but the problem still persists largely because it is often so hard to see.

To raise environmental awareness of urban air pollution, Moscow based media artist Dmitry Morozov has developed a tiny gadget that artistically visualizes surrounding environmental data. Digioxide is a Bluetooth connected sensor that “sniffs” out air pollution and transforms it into abstract visual images.


The device analyzes air composition and detects the levels of CO (carbon monoxide), CO2 (carbon dioxide), HCHO (Formaldehyde, and CH4 (Methane), and C3H8 (propane) in the surrounding environment. Using a Arduino micro-controller, the Digioxide translates this data into corresponding shapes and colors which make up the glitchy artistic creations.

A mobile printer prints out the resulting picture on the fly, which can either be left at the location or given to someone nearby. A snapshot taken at a busy intersection will produce a brighter array of colors; one taken at a park will be more green (a sign of fresh air).

This is not Morozov’s first venture into abstract sensing technologies- he’s previously transformed tattoos into musical scores and revealed the artistic qualities of product bar codes. His newest creation does not stray far from this principle, but displays the surprising artistic qualities of yet another unsuspecting subject.

The glitchy productions allow citizens to examine the environment they live in through a new lens, and will hopefully generate new appreciation for the quality of the air they breathe. With Digioxide, even contaminated air can be admired for its composition, which sheds light on the idea that there is something beautiful in everything, even in the worst of creations.

By restructuring the way society examines environmental issues, its possible that new solutions can arise. While it’s not likely that the abstract snapshots will provide the be-all end-all answers for fixing air pollution in our cities, the prints can inspire creative thinkers to tackle the global issue in new, innovative ways.


[h/t] Wired


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