Innovation & Technology: FLOAT Beijing by Deren Guler

A community-driven project from two students at the Carnegie Mellon and Harvard universities will endeavor to tackle the ongoing poor air quality of China.

Already reaching its initial fundraising goal through the open-source, funding platform Kickstarter (incidentally opening to the UK this year), FLOAT will enable urban-dwellers to map and visualize the air quality in China’s capital, Beijing, using handmade kites.  Each kite is fitted with specialist pollutant-sensing technology, and when pollutants are detected in the air, it will light up in a multitude of colors, creating a poignant art display.  Additionally, a GPS device logs information to Google Maps and the real-time data website Cosm, promoting local knowledge sharing, and enabling the project and pollution levels to be monitored regularly.

The FLOAT team will introduce the kites through a series of workshops, which will teach local residents, enthusiasts, old kite masters and  “young environmentalists” how to design and assemble their sustainable vessels.

FLOAT explains further on their website:

“Due to light and air pollution, it is extremely difficult to see stars in the Beijing night sky. These kites will appear not only as indicators of urban air pollution, but also a strong visual and sensory experience. As our project is public art, it also brings together people from all walks of life — from old kite masters in Beijing, to young environmentalists, to participate and make the final public art piece together.”

See more from this brilliant and thought-provoking project here. – Samantha Fox 

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