inAir (living-environments.net) is a personal tool for sensing and visualizing indoor air quality to improve awareness and understanding of indoor air quality. inAir provides historical and real-time visualizations of indoor air quality by measuring tiny hazardous airborne particles as small as 0.5 microns in size.
A Dylos air quality monitor, a commercial air quality sensor, is used to measure particulate matter. It counts the number of particles larger than 0.5 microns within a cubic meter of air. Attached to the sensor is an iPod Touch used to render the visualizations. A line graph is updated with a data point consisting of the average of the 15-second sensor readings from the past 20 minutes. To the right, a bar graph updates every 15 seconds making it easier for current activities to be linked to air quality variations.
Participants used inAir in 2 distinctive ways: to glance over the inAir screen unintentionally when they passed by the device, and to check how their current activity was affecting indoor air quality. Participants expressed a desire to provide a more direct mapping of the visualized data to health effects and also to help interpret the overall air quality (i.e. good, poor, hazardous). Also, participants mentioned that they checked the 24-hour history of air quality using inAir less frequently. Further results from the user evaluation study demonstrate how inAir promotes greater awareness and motivates individual actions to improve indoor air quality.
I cannot stop noticing that the project is an example of a desire to "visualize" data, instead of making its meaning or causality more graspable for lay users. Many other similar examples exist, such as the popular graphs that depict water, energy and gas usage audits, or the depiction of CO2 gas emissions on utility bills.
A more detailed description can be found here (PDF).