Xiaowei Wang’s FLOAT project illuminates pollution in Beijing

Xiaowei Wang (MLA ’13) has created a public art event that’s also a pollution monitoring project for notoriously smog-ridden Beijing. Wang and her collaborator Deren Guler of the Computational Design Lab at Carnegie Mellon took advantage of the tradition and beauty of kite flying in China to enlist kite enthusiasts in mapping air quality. Their FLOAT Beijing project also created a constellation of twinkling indicator lights in the city’s night sky.
Part of the project Beijing kite flierwas a series of community workshops to teach local residents how to assemble tiny air quality sensors to attach tothe kites. There were group kite flights after the workshops with the sensor modules attached. The modules logged data and had visible LED lights which indicated the air quality levels: pink for poor, green for healthy. 
FLOAT Beijing was featured in stories on the BBC and CNN. The Asia Society is releasing a documentary on the project and air quality issues in Beijing soon.