Fynn Eckstein

The Pollution Talisman

Update 14/06/17


According to the WHO, more than 90% of the world’s population are living in areas that are exceeding the air quality limits for healthy living. When the air pollution is increasing urban spaces have to be monitored to guarantee a non-harmful life.

At the moment air quality Sensors are only stationary which makes it nearly impossible to define the amount of pollution in the air around us at this exactly moment.

Beeing outdoor still means beeing healthy and active but when you are at the wrong spot today beeing outdoor also means beeing exposed to harmful elements and gases.

the Pollution Talisman will give you the chance to be outside, living a healthy life without beeing exposed to gases that interfere with your body.

Measuring air quality is quite a simple task nowadays. With a variety of sensors, you can measure different kinds of gases and particles like O3, NO2, CO2, and Pm10. But what is the benefit of knowing the concentration?

What does it have to do with bio-design?

Pollution is an emerging topic in all European countries but unlike in China the density, even if it is already harmful, is not visible. So how can we experience something that is not visible and figure out how harmful the air we breathe is. This project should create a greater consciousness for the topic of air quality because at the moment we may be aware of the problem but as far as I know mankind will only take action if it is almost too late.


The following concepts should not catastrophize the topic more encourage you to go outside to explore your surrounding and find sports with low levels of pollution.

 Update 12/06/17

PRO and CONS of the concepts.

  • Thorax creates an intense feeling, but it depends on the weight of the object and the point where it is touching your body. You have to focus on the movement to feel it.
  • Breathing Light may not be as intense as thorax but you can easily interact with it and also it gives you a huge variety how to carry it.

Besides the question whether Thorax or Breathing Light is the concept I am going for there are further issues to be solved.

    • How will you carry it around?


    Do you have to hold it with your bare hands? Wear it around your neck? Carry it on your keychain? Or is the user free to decide this on his own?

  • Is it only indicating the level of pollution and you have to find out where less polluted places are on your own? Or can it guide you to a better place?


Update 08/06/17

I decided to take two concepts to the next stage Thorax and Breathing light.
To proof the concept I build small mockups showing the different functions.



Breathing Light


In my eyes, both concepts will work. Thorax has to be in direct contact with your body (e.g., your chest) while Breathing Light will surely work as an object you can carry around with you.


Update 01/06/17

The idea of the Pollution Talisman is to create an object that is connecting you emotionally to the amount of pollution around you. At the moment I’m exploring two different aspects of this project.


The first aspect is the way we would use this talisman. On the one hand, I can imagine it is an object that is stationary maybe at home, at work or in different public spots. On the contrary, it could be a more intense connection if it would be something that you are carrying with you. Furthermore, I can even envision that the talisman is becoming a piece of jewellery you can carry around with you all day.


Besides that, I fathom out the aspect of how the talisman is communicating with us.

C1: Blossom

C1 is inspired by a blossom as soon as you reach an area with good air quality the flower is opening up to indicate good air quality.

C2: Breathing Light

C2 is only communication though light it is imitation your breath and if you reach a spot with less polluted air, it starts to breath deeper.

C3: Thorax

Every time we take a breath your chest is moving. C3 is using this movement to connect you to the air quality. If the air quality is good, it starts breathing deeper.

C4: Sphere

C4 is similar to the Blossom but uses a more abstract shape which is opening up when the pollution level is low.




  1. It seems that the navigation device is at the heart of your interest. I see two directions in which you could go from there:
    1. You could think in a more divergent or open manner about the physical shape of this navigation device. Is it an electronic gadget in your palm? Or a shirt? Or a plant? Such a divergent thought experiment might result in a confusing waste of time but there is also a chance that it expands your view even if you stick to an electronic gadget in the end.
    2. You could analyse the mental models of the navigation. Do you want to offer a map or the description of a path? What parameters do you want to include (time, distance, etc.)? How would you organise them on a 2D plane or in 3D space?

  2. I strongly agree with Ralph’s first point here. Giving people an idea about the air quality around them really is an appealing idea. But whether people will use it or not stands and falls with the user experience.
    No one likes to be constantly reminded of something that he cannot do anything about (i.e. going somewhere else). So it might be worth to look into ways of making your device as subtle as possible. As Ralph already mentioned, in the end you might end up with a electronic gadget anyways, but I guess it will help you tremendously to look into different directions as well.

  3. And I wonder whether the hint of where to find cleaner air is the only interesting parameter here. This could also be about getting a feeling for our exposition to polluted air over time. What if one could perceive in what kind of air they spent the day? Would they change their habits?

  4. I started thinking about new ways and approaches to the topic and as you mentioned there are a lot of different aspects to consider I will give you an update as soon as possible.

  5. Thorax and Breathing Light are the ones that caught my attention.
    Their emulation of the human breath is quite eerie and abstract which might be strong enough to actually captivate the user.

    Right now, in both concepts, the breathing is a rather visual indicator. Wouldn’t it be interesting if you could actually feel it breath? Or if it restricted your own breathing when exposed to bad pollution to actually force you to go somewhere else? Following this train of thought, in clean air it might help you breath by somehow amplifying the cleanness. So it is not just a visual indicator you carry around but something you really interact with.

    1. Breathing light, of course, will be a visual sign but Thorax would be an excellent tactile indicator. Restricting someone’s breath is quite radical, but maybe Thorax could guide your breathing just by adapting the frequency and intensity.

  6. Hey Fynn,
    I really like your idea of a talisman as a kind of “jewellery” one can carry around. In my eyes the relevance and message of this idea is much stronger than a stationary approach.
    I also prefer your concepts communicating through movement, especially “Thorax”, but also “Sphere”. I can imagine that even very slight movements can already create strong effects here.
    Some inspiration for your project could also be different concepts of interactive fashiondesign (for example from Ying Gao or Nikolas Bentel), as there are some cool concepts with movement transfering different information as well:

  7. Hey Fynn, i like your Mockups! How will the ‘breath’ change when there is better or worse air quality around? Will the intervals be more frequently or stop? or will ‘breathing light’ change color?

    1. I think it will reduce the intensity of the light and decrease the number of “breaths” per minute. I could also imagine that it will change its colour, but I’m a bit afraid of creating an object that is rahter indicating the bad then the good.

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