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2013 Create the Future Design: Consumer Products Category Winner

Plant Air Purifier
James Schaeffer, Bill Wolverton, Wayne Schaeffer, and Bernarr Schaeffer
U.S. Health Equipment Co., Kingston, NY

The Plant Air Purifier is a new air-cleaning appliance that utilizes the recently discovered air-cleaning capacity of rootassociated microbes living synergistically with common houseplants to trap and consume toxins in the air. The research behind this was done by Bill Wolverton while working in NASA’s space program. He found that low levels of chemicals such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde can be removed from indoor environments by plant leaves alone, while higher concentrations of numerous toxic chemicals can be removed by filtering indoor air though the plant roots surrounded by activated carbon. The activated carbon absorbs large quantities of the toxic chemicals and retains them until the plant roots and associated microorganisms degrade and assimilate these chemicals.

As fossil fuel prices rise, buildings are being constructed more tightly to save on energy costs. As a result, a new and dangerous phenomenon has become more common: Sick Building Syndrome. With the proliferation of household consumer products such as cleaners added to the outgassing from carpets, drapes, plywood, and finishes, more and more people recognize the need for addressing indoor air quality. The Plant Air Purifier consists of an outer pot with the integrated highpressure blower, and a perforated inner pot that allows airflow and porous potting media. As air is drawn through the hydroculture (sterilized stone) potting media and activated carbon granules, toxins are attracted to the carbon surfaces where rootassociated microbes then feed on them, changing the toxins into harmless substances that are used as food by the plant in the pot. All one needs to do is water the Plant Air Purifier regularly and feed the plant with dilute liquid plant food every three or four months. This innovative system allows one plant to do the cleaning work of 50 to 100 plants potted conventionally in soil.

For more information, visit http://contest.techbriefs.com/consumer-winner

 

Honorable Mentions

Isowalk Intelligent Mobility
Ron Goldberg, Greenwood Lake, NY

Isowalk is an intelligent mobility aid designed to replace the walking cane. Unlike the cane, Isowalk provides active walking assistance that conforms its performance and response to each individual user. Using low-power wireless technology, connected Isowalk models can send/receive alerts, provide real-time and archived physiological and haptic data, and provide location tracking and emergency response services. Isowalk’s radical new geometry provides a native pendulum action that makes the device self-propulsive and effortless to use. The user simply moves/walks to the best of his/her ability, and Isowalk automatically swings and plants itself for the next step, to or from any angle. Through a strategic center of gravity and modern composite materials, Isowalk feels virtually weightless in use.

For more information, visit http://contest.techbriefs.com/isowalk

 

Air Filter Maintenance Alert
John Pollock, Peoria, AZ

Many households do not consistently maintain their A/C filters (heating or cooling). Newer A/C units often have a simple settable fixed timer to remind the household to change the filter, or a more sophisticated method that monitors motor current or even pressure changes. Many of these units suffer by not having a simple audible or highly visible annunciator.

FilterWatch is a low-cost, single-AAA battery powered anemometer designed to track relative airflow changes. When placed on an A/C return vent, it will monitor airflow changes and send a positive alert when the filter needs replacing. It uses a modified “hot-wire” method to determine airflow. Using low-power ARM core uC, and very-lowpower temperature sensing, the system is able to wake up every few hours or days as the situation dictates.

For more information, visit http://contest.techbriefs.com/airfilter-alert