Modified Roomba warns you of polluted air in room

Oh, little Roomba, is there nothing you can't do? You clean floors and you paint psychedelic LED light art. Who are you really? And since when did you learn how to detect air pollution?

A team of researchers at the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS) and the Rhode Island School of Design rigged together a Roomba, a few sensors and an LED light to create an autonomous 'bot that will light up if the air in a room is unsuitable for breathing.

At the moment, the Roomba has a chemical sensor that changes from yellow to blue when increased levels of alcohol in the air is detected, but in the future, PLOTS hopes to include other sensors that detect chemicals such as formaldehyde (causes asthma and dizziness).

Sara Wylie, MIT researcher and director of toxins and health research at PLOTS says using a Roomba with the attached sensors is more effective than a stationary sensor. The modded Roomb is a success, but a more portable solution such as a wand would be cheaper and easier to use.

What seems like a simple hack could potentially save tons of lives. Imagine if the Roomba had a carbon monoxide or an odor-free gas detector? The difference could life and death.

To the Roomba, we welcome your adept side jobs. We need more 'bots like you.

PLOTS, via TechnologyReview

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