A startup, Nanozen, based out of the University of BC in Vancouver, has developed a real-time, wearable particle sensor for use in mines, sawmills, and other industrial locations where dust and particles can lead to dangerous explosions and debilitating respiratory diseases, according to the Vancouver Sun Friday.
Winnie Chu, a professor in environmental health at UBC realized particle monitoring methods were falling far short of the need. Chu launched a research project in 2004 seeking a better way to monitor nanoparticles in the air. Two years ago she gave up teaching to focus full time on the wearable particle monitor.
Wearable Nanoparticle Detector
Chu said more than 90 per cent of the firefighters who responded to the 9/11 disaster developed lung disease, having walked into a site full of small and very damaging particles in the air.
Chu has sought to create a monitor that is small and light enough to be truly wearable. An app to have the data shown on a cellphone is under development; so far, the real-time data is contained on the device itself.
“Everything is very small, it’s about half the size of an iPhone,” she said to the Vancouver Sun. “Workers can put it on their helmet.”
Chu said the technology can also be helpful for people outside of industrial settings. Nanozen has had interest from companies in China and Taiwan.
Nanozen hopes to launch the product in 2015.