My Air, My Health Challenge Mashes Up Data & Announces 4 Finalists

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By Steven Randazzo | On Thu, 11/15/2012 - 3:50pm

Earlier today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the finalists in the My Air, My Health Challenge.  Launched at this year’s Health Datapalooza the challenge aims at protecting people’s health and making environmental information more accessible through the development of portable devices that gather and integrate health and air quality data. 

Participants submitted designs of sensors that can be worn or carried and take into the account the link between airborne pollutants and health measurements.   In the past we have had the instrumentation and experience in measuring environmental and community level exposure, and with the My Air, My Health Challenge we are going a step forward in moving to individual physiological measurements. 

The finalists are:

  • Guy Shechter, Mark Aloia, Johan Marra, Arpana Sali, Ronald Wolf, (Andover, Mass. for Philips Healthcare): Ultra-fine particle sensing devices that also measure respiratory function and vital signs.
  • Michael Heimbinder (Brooklyn, N.Y., for HabitatMap), Michael Taylor (Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, Pa.), Carlos Restrepo (New York University in Manhattan, N.Y.), and George D. Thurston (NYU in Manhattan, N.Y.): Mobile application and website to link exposures to carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter with heart rates and blood oxygen levels.
  • Gabrielle Dockterman (Carlisle, Mass.), David Kuller (Milan, Italy), and Dot Kelly (Darien, Conn.): “Smart” athletic clothing that measures airborne pollutants and relevant health metrics.
  • Aaron Hechmer (El Cerrito, Calif.): Integrated modular air quality sensors, breathing games, and a software package that promote public sharing of health information.

Honorable mentions were Rajiv Totlani of Frisco, Texas, and Peter Sotory of Raleigh, N.C.

What this challenge has shown us thus far is the power of data mashups.  In this instance, participants are mashing up environmental data with health data to help individuals improve their health.  But mashups of data have great potential and can be used to provide huge insights on the cost, quality, and causes of health care phenomena.  For example, with the “Smart” athletic clothing proposal; the sensor in the device measures airborne pollutants and health metrics, which while separate each tell a story about the health of the environment or an individual but when mashed up shows the correlation between an individual’s health and performance and what route they take when exercising.  While using open data to power/develop an application is huge, data mashups are the next evolution to a more complete picture of an individual’s health.

Each finalist will receive $15,000, and will transform their designs into working systems to measure air pollutants and related physiological measurements. One overall winner will receive a cash award of $100,000 to be announced in June 2013.  More information on My Air, My Health Challenge can be found on here: http://epa.gov/research/challenges/.

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