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Challenge My Air, My Health: An HHS/EPA Challenge
My Air, My Health: An HHS/EPA Challenge
STATUS: Awarded
Active Solvers: 503
Posted: Jun 05 2012
Challenge ID: 9932947
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How do we connect personal devices for testing and reporting of both air quality and linked physiological data? Such a system would enable not only high-resolution mapping of pollutant concentrations, but also support research and reporting of individual physiological responses related to the pollutant. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) [National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)] envision a future in which powerful, affordable, and portable sensors provide a rich awareness of environmental quality, moment-to-moment physiological changes, and long-term health outcomes. Health care will be connected to the whole environment, improving diagnosis, treatment, and prevention at all levels. 

This challenge is open only to Solvers who are individuals, teams or businesses with their permanent residences or primary places of business in the United States. More details are included in the challenge description.

Phase 1 of  this Challenge requires only a written proposal.


Environmental and public health are closely related and complementary fields—and closer understanding is needed of those connections. New, affordable, sensitive and portable sensors and monitors have the potential to transform the way we measure and interpret the influence of pollution on health. These technologies can provide a picture that is more detailed and more personal, with dramatic implications for health care, air quality oversight, and individuals’ control over their own environments and health. 

Plans to develop personal devices are required – these must sensitively and frequently measure air quality, along with one or more physiological markers linked to the air quality metric that is measured.  The system should be designed with input from a community or target population that would benefit from the solution.  A design for a personal integrated system is required, together with a development plan and a proposal for a proof of concept study. 

Designs and development plans are required for integrated sensor systems that will detect:

  • Air pollutants - Particulates or individual chemical species
  • Physiological markers - Health metrics with a citation-supported link to the proposed air pollutants to be measured 

The system should also enable transmission of these data, together with time and location stamps, to a central resource. Existing communication architecture and transmission devices (e.g. cellular handsets and networks) should be used to transmit data. The requirement is that transmission to a central database be enabled – insights into that database are provided by the Seeker in the Challenge Details.

This Challenge is structured in 2 Phases – 4 awards of $15,000 are available to Phase 1 finalists, and a single award of $100,000 is available for the winner of Phase 2:

Phase 1 – Project Plan (no more than 15 pages, not including appendices that may consist of diagrams/schematics, bibliography, and other supplementary materials)

  1. Propose a plausible link between health outcomes and airborne pollutants (chemical species and/or particulates), and provide evidence to support a plausible and physiologically meaningful relationship between airborne pollutants and physiological metrics in a defined population.
  2. Propose a prototype design and development plan for an integrated multi-sensor and data management system that may be easily worn or carried by individuals within the defined target community/population.
  3. Conceptualize data generation, management (may include processing & on-board storage), and transmission functionality of the device.
  4. Propose a small-scale proof-of-concept study to validate the proposed prototype.
  5. Study design process must include input from the target community/population. 

Phase 2 – Proof-of-Concept Pilot Project

  1. Finalists attend an event for feedback, questions, and business/entrepreneurial resources prepared by Challenge sponsors (HHS, ONC, NIEHS, EPA).
  2. Finalists develop the proposed prototype and execute experimental validation of the system to bring together data from personal air quality and physiological monitors, showing how these types of data and sensors can be integrated for practical use by health and environmental agencies, and by individual citizens. Proof-of-concept data must illustrate the accuracy and precision of the raw data and of any processed data produced by the system. 

This is a Theoretical Challenge that requires only a written proposal to be submitted.  The Challenge award will be contingent upon theoretical evaluation of the proposal by the Seeker.  To receive an award, the Solvers will not have to transfer their exclusive IP rights to the Seeker.  Instead, they will grant to the Seeker non-exclusive license to practice their solutions. 

What is InnoCentive?
InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

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An InnoCentive Theoretical Challenge builds upon an idea but is not yet a proof of concept. A solution to a Theoretical Challenge will solidify the Solver's concept with detailed descriptions, specifications and requirements necessary to bringing a good idea closer to becoming an actual product or service.

This Challenge is a Theoretical-Licensing Challenge, meaning that the Seeker is requesting non-exclusive rights to use the winning solution. By contrast, Theoretical-IP Transfer means that Solvers must relinquish all rights to the Intellectual Property (IP) for which they are awarded. For these forms of a Theoretical Challenge, Solvers that do not win retain the rights to their solution after the evaluation period is complete. The Seeker retains no rights to any IP not awarded.

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