We were inspired by the wildfires in Australia that are currently drastically changing the lives of the people and animals who occupy the country. Wildfire pollution can cause irritation in the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. In more serious cases it can lead to hospitalization, especially for people with pre-existing respiratory conditions. Australia's clear air standard is a PM2.5 level of eight micrograms per cubic meter, recent readings in Sydney have been as high as 734 micrograms - the equivalent of about 37 cigarettes (BBC, 2020).
What it does
This product filters the air that the wearer is breathing, allowing them to breathe easier. It covers the mouth, nose, and ears to prevent polluted air from getting into the respiratory system. This could be applicable in wildfire pollution, smog, sickness, allergies and overall decreasing air quality that is affecting people in polluted cities globally. The filter for our product also is infused with a soothing, essential oil to better the experience for individuals. We have programmed the circuit to illuminate different colors and emit different sounds depending on the air quality and with further coding, be Bluetooth enabled. This allows individuals with impairments to use the product as well.
How we built it
Collaborating with the knit lab technicians, we produced a prototype on the Stoll digital knitting machine that comprised of a variety of knitwear techniques. Using the 3D printing lab, we created a flexible nose piece with NinjaFlex filament, to be integrated within the top seam of the knit. Finally, using the double bed knitting machines we created an example of what the filter would look like to be placed within the knitwear.
Challenges we ran into
We were unable to source the air quality detector circuit, although Adafruit does currently have it available to purchase and even the possibility of customizing the boards. The one that we did have access to that was Bluetooth enabled stopped working which lead us to use an older version that did not allow wireless connection. Given the time constraint, we were unable to use the appropriate yarns, as well as incorporate the intricate jacquard design we originally wanted, which is possible with further development.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were able to successfully program the functioning circuit. We collaborated very well as a group of five while being able to share and incorporate the skills everyone brought to the table. Being able to work with technologies we would not have been exposed to otherwise. Use the technology available to develop a specific product fabricated by the automated knitting machine.
What we learned
We have learned Anthropometrics, specific human body dimensions for a respiratory product, including characteristics that cover respiratory health protection in terms of accessibility to breath cleaner air. In addition, we had the chance to learn introduction coding in Arduino and make code, that provides us the tool to set up the sensor that will be attached to the product. Specific sizing and head measurements. Work team combining differents fields in one functional result that includes textiles and tech for a social need.
What's next for Smart Filtration-Infused Knitwear
Connect the Bluetooth to an app that will send push notifications letting the user know the air quality and pollution levels. We would also like to make actual garments with the knit cowl neck incorporated in them, for example, a long-sleeved shirt, short-sleeved shirt, sweaters, dresses, and more. We would also like to incorporate this into industry workwear and childrenswear in the future.