A concept product called the Urban Canary allows parents to monitor the quality of air around their children

Poor air quality is a rising concern in urban areas filled with pollution. Children are at high risk because their immune systems and lungs are still developing. Researcher and designer Daniel Goddemeyer worked with design studio OFFC to create the Urban Canary, a plastic bird that tracks pollution wherever it goes. For now an imagined product, the point of Urban Canaries is to provide information to parents while also aggregating data to create a pollution map. This data can potentially help inspire larger solutions to city air pollution.

The toy accompanies a child, making it possible for the toy canary to continuously measure air quality. Initially, the Urban Canary is healthy, with a blinking green light indicating this state. When air pollution is bad, the bird begins to get “sick,” and this information is relayed to a parent’s smartphone. The color of the pulse changes, with red indicating the worst pollution while the bird vibrates to notify the child. This allows parents to learn more about air quality and exactly where the child was exposed to high levels of pollution. The app also displays detailed information on the time, location and amount of pollution that the child and toy were exposed throughout the day.

Urban Canaries are part of a network that gathers information, making it possible to inform people on nearby unpolluted spots they can go to and recover. The team believes that this conceptual design is also a way to start a dialogue between children and parents about pollution and its detrimental effects.

Urban Canaries

Poor air quality is a rising concern in urban areas filled with pollution. Children are at high risk because their immune systems and lungs are still developing. Researcher and designer Daniel Goddemeyer worked with design studio OFFC to create the Urban Canary, a plastic bird that tracks pollution wherever it goes. For now an imagined product, the point of Urban Canaries is to provide information to parents while also aggregating data to create a pollution map. This data can potentially help inspire larger solutions to city air pollution.