"Got your own blog yet? If not you'd better hurry up if you don't
want to be beaten to it by a flock of pigeons. Later this year 20 of
the birds will take to the skies above San Jose, California, each
carrying a GPS receiver, air pollution sensors and a basic cellphone.
They will measure levels of pollutants they encounter, and beam back
their findings as text messages to a blog in real time.
We are combining an air pollution sensor with a home-made cellphone," says
interdisciplinary artist and researcher Beatriz da Costa of the
University of California, Irvine, who came up with the idea of the
pigeon blog with her students Cina Hazegh and Kevin Ponto. The team has
built a prototype of the pigeons' kit containing a cellphone circuit
board with SIM card and communication chips, a GPS receiver and carbon
monoxide and nitrogen dioxide sensors. They now plan to squeeze all the
components onto a single board small enough for the birds to carry in a
pigeon bloggers are due to be released at the Inter-Society for
Electronic Arts' annual symposium in San Jose on 5 August. The data
they send back will be displayed on the blog in the form of an
interactive map. As well as providing local residents with real-time
data on air quality, da Costa hopes the pigeon blog will inspire people
to come up with new ways to monitor the environment. The pigeons will
also carry cameras around their necks and post aerial photos to the
A change of pace from my usual posts: This is my backyard today after the snow stopped. I ran six miles this morning in near blizzard conditions. I went as fast as I could because it was so painful. But I feel so good now.