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Overview Problem Proposal Research Insights Concepting Prototyping Testing Deliverables

Air Bear is a smart air quality monitor for children that notifies parents of harmful air quality, uses AI to nudge positive behavioural changes and prompts climate action. It was designed under the brief "Apply AI" for the 2023/24 RSA Design Awards.

Duration: Oct 2023 - Dec 2023

  • Project Video

  • Problem

    Children are highly vulnerable to poor air quality related heath issues. Parents often overlook air quality's impact on children's health, risking future problems such as asthma, hay fever and cancer.


    Air Bear uses a network of bears collecting air particle data to create a comprehension of air quality around children in a localised area.

    The Air Bear App notifies parents of predicted harmful air scenarios, recommending tailored behavioural changes to protect their child.

    To improve local air quality, the app encourages users to join groups striving to improve it.

    Mockup of Air Bear in a child's room
    Co-design session with group of parents

    From interviews with parents and guardians who have participated in climate activism to improve air quality issues in their area, we gained insight into the need for accessible predictive, current, and past air quality data to inform parent’s decisions around children’s exposure to air pollutants.

    Through co-design and feedback sessions, the necessity to nudge parents and others to participate in a collective effort to improve air quality in any manner was apparent.

    “I was always around fumes, even when I was pregnant I was working in the garage, and everyone smoked at home anyways. We just accepted he [child] would have s*** lungs.”


    “...for some, they need it all done for them, cause they won’t have connections and wont be able to motivate anyone and build a community.”

    -Parent involved in air quality activism

    Insight 1

    Children are the most vulnerable to air pollutants, yet they have no poor air quality protection device specifically designed for their needs.

    Insight 2

    Parents are often concerned about their child being around poor air quality, but don’t know how to protect them.

    Insight 3

    Most people often don’t know where to start with taking climate action, and can get overwhelmed trying to find information and groups to join.


    Concepts were generated through ideation sessions with parents. The use of prompts in the form of "How Might We" statements created from the research insights guided the ideation sessions. Exercises included sticky-note brainstorming and Crazy Eights. Selection of the most viable concepts was established through dot voting. A SWOT analysis was also conducted for each concept, ensuring it fit the defined problem.

    Crazy Eights, sticky notes and concept drawings from ideation exercises.
    3 examples of Air Bear prototypes

    3 physical teddy bear prototypes were created for testing to evaluate the functionality of the electronics (air quality sensors), and to establish how children would react and interact with the teddy bears as Air Bear’s intent was to fit into children’s daily routine seamlessly.


    Observations from cultural probes established that children had no issue with the teddy bears being part of their routines, validating the idea.

    Parent’s expressed the opinion that it would not grab their child’s attention and would possibly not be played with. This was a non-issue as there would be less interference with the internal electronics and therefore less outlying air quality data.

    Person testing the Air Bear app

    “I don’t think [Child’s name] would play with it, cause he liked flashing lights and things that made noises. But I think if it was there he wouldn’t mistreat it.”


    “It wouldn’t it would be [Child 1]’s style, but [Child 2] would like it. Would probably chew its arm off.”


    Feedback on high fidelity screen mockups of the Air Bear app

    *Deliverables will be published once RSA design award submissions are closed*

    Desk covered in submission work for Air Bear project