design team | David Lu / Deepak Talwar / Hannah Hagen / Baljot Singh
Atmospheric science major David Lu returned from a trip to air-polluted Beijing in 2013 with a sore throat and an idea. He shared the latter with his organic chemistry study partner Hannah Hagen, from the College of Natural Resources. “Wouldn’t it be great to have something you could plug into a phone and read off pollution levels?” he asked. He’d come to the right person: “My vision was to start a business to protect the environment,” says Hagen. Joining forces at the beginning of 2014 with mechanical engineering major Deepak Talwar — Hagen jokes that “we’re from the U.S., China and India, so we have all the world’s pollution covered” — they created Clarity, a key-chain-sized monitor that sends data on fine particulates to the user’s phone and can combine with other users’ data to map an entire city’s pollution picture in real time. With help from the Foundry@CITRIS, including Invention Lab access, plus backing from U.S. and China-based startup accelerator HAXLR8R, Clarity will launch the system in Beijing this October with a thousand users — a hundred or more of them go-everywhere bicycle messengers to establish a baseline.