Carbo Cycle

Urban air pollution is a growing concern in large cities and while there are tools to monitor poor air quality and statistical data that measure its effects, it is an issue that remains by its very nature invisible.

During a week-long course of physical computing, the team explored the idea of a drawing machine “in the wild” and conceived a 24hr cycling event in which the city of Copenhagen turns into a canvas. Carbo Cycle invites citizens to explore the streets and help create awareness about their city’s air quality.

By developing rapid prototypes at increasing fidelity levels, the designers tested how to use a sensor measuring outdoor air quality to activate a solenoid valve releasing coloured water-soluble paint and how to construct a working prototype that could be fitted on a moving bicycle. As a person cycles, real-time measurements of air quality can be tracked through changing LEDs while the release of water-soluble paint at the back of the vehicle creates varying colourful trails around the city for everyone to see. For one day, areas of poor air quality will be both visually noticeable and filled with colour.