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Measure fine dust with your smartphone

The first prototype of the iSPEX add-on, which turns  your smartphone into an instrument to measure the properties of fine dust  in the air, was released early in 2012. RIVM was a member of the consortium that developed this device, along with the Netherlands  Research School for Astronomy (NOVA), Leiden University, the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI) and the Netherlands  Institute for Space Research (SRON).

With iSPEX (iPhone Spectropolarimeter for Planetary EXploration) we plan to study the size distribution and composition of particulate matter in the atmosphere. These small particles floating in the air may  harm our health. iSPEX is not only a sophisticated new measurement technique, but also a new way of science communication by asking. the public to participate  in scientific research. Anyone with iSPEX on their smartphone can contribute to the measurements.


Academic invention of the year

The iSPEX communication plan won the 2012 Academic Year Prize  ( Academische jaarprijs) in October. The sum of money that came with the prize was used to make 10,000 iSPEX smartphone add-ons, which will be  distributed to volunteers throughout the Netherlands. The volunteers will perform fine dust  measurements on the same day and will send the results to atmospheric scientists who will use the data to map  fine dust properties  throughout the country. The iSPEX measurements will be compared with measurements by RIVM, in order to validate the iSPEX results.

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