May 29, 2024

Understanding air pollution with AR: Best Poster Award for Sylvain Renault

May 29, 2024

Sylvain Renault, project manager at the Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz-Institut (HHI), received the Best Poster Award at the tenth "International Conference on Geographical Information Systems Theory, Applications and Management" (GISTAM). The conference took place at the beginning of May in Angers, France. His paper "Dynamic Exposure Visualization of Air Quality Data with Augmented Reality", which he wrote together with his co-authors, deals with the use of augmented reality (AR) for the user-friendly visualization of environmental information such as air quality or traffic data. The resulting app will be publicly available by mid-2024.

Air pollution is one of the biggest health challenges in densely populated areas. It can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer. Moreover, biodiversity is negatively impacted by poor air quality. Air pollution poisons crops and forests, which in turn leads to considerable economic losses.

Increasing public awareness of air pollution and environmental conditions is therefore more important than ever. In Europe in particular, there are already a large number of do-it-yourself sensors that measure air quality as well as other environmental factors. In theory, the data generated by these sensors is accessible to the public via various web interfaces. However, it is often not presented in a comprehensible and interconnected way.

To make these insights into the current and historical environmental conditions of our continent usable and appealing, Sylvain Renault is developing AR applications for data visualization in Fraunhofer HHI’s "Immersive Media and Communication" research group in the "Vision and Imaging Technologies" department. This promising technology enables citizens to monitor environmental conditions in their community. With this knowledge, communities can then better understand the impact of their own actions in order to create the basis for behavioral change.

In the award-winning paper, he and his co-authors Ingo Feldmann, Raes Lieven, Jurgen Silence and Dr. Oliver Schreer present the framework, visualization concept and a prototype of an AR application that is able to visually overlay environmental information such as air quality or traffic data. With innovative visualization techniques, they address the biggest current challenge in the use of AR in this field: the effective visualization of real-time environmental data in 3D AR space. Their findings stem from the European project H2020 COMPAIR, in which end users were involved throughout the development process.

The Dynamic Exposure Visualization App (DEVA), resulting from their research, follows a flexible and dynamic software concept. It can easily be expanded with additional functions depending on the needs of the users and the availability of new sensor data. Future versions could incorporate gamification elements to increase the appeal of the app, especially for a younger target group. The application is currently being evaluated in various pilot cities and regions and will be publicly available via app stores by mid-2024.