As the coronavirus hits heavy in the United States, 20 states have not yet held primary elections. In order to continue with the election process, voting will have to be drastically reconsidered with special attention to preventing the spread of COVID-19 while still being as democratic and accessible as possible.

This project includes a set of proposals addressing issues around voting in an election during a global pandemic and improving overall access to the voting system, which was already critically failing many communities even before the outbreak of coronavirus. The three proposed concepts each address a different set of problems regarding voting in uncertain times.

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Project Background

Globally, unhealthy air quality is responsible for 4.2 million deaths annually. In areas of developing industry, economic activity, and population, civilians are exposed to alarming levels of pollutants. These residents are susceptible to catastrophic health effects. While the global issue of air pollution is most effectively controlled through communal action, policies limiting sources from producing pollutants require years to reach the effect of reducing health impacts for the population. Personal protective devices (PPE) are urgently needed to deliver healthy air to the population immediately.

The air quality index (AQI), organized by the world health organization, is a framework to quantify the level of unhealthy air in an environment. Ratings range from 0 to 500. An air quality rating above 100 is considered unsuitable for humans. 9 out of every 10 humans lives in air quality considered unsatisfactory.

The n95 mask is the most popular form of PPE on the market. Largely popular due to its convenience and ease of acquiring, the product has a short lifespan and can take nearly 300 years to fully degrade in the landfill. This single-use product is produced with petroleum-based fabrics and inherently causes further air pollution. Additionally, its long degradation time restricts the success in reducing unhealthy air. This solution needs to be rethought.
The Problem

To design and develop a solution providing acceptable air quality to civilians in urban settings. The design solution will achieve this by separating healthy air from pollutants or protecting exposure to harmful air. In addition, the design solution will provide a sustainable element to limit further production of air pollution.

The Process:

  • After concluding the initial research phase, I develop a series of hypothetic concepts to solve problems surrounding PPE and Air Pollution.
  • Due to geographical constraints, user surveying will be necessary to gain insight of the environment with unhealthy air quality. This survey will be used to determine the desired design solution.
  • Post survey, physical testing will be performed to determine successful materials in blocking and/or filtering polluted air. Additionally the material will be selected to achieve the implementation of the design solution.

Five concepts were created in the first pass toward a design solution. With each concept, a subsequent test or research point is included for the validity of the idea.


A survey was conducted to determine concept direction based on interest from a user group. After a brief introduction to each concept, a series of questions were asked to indicate the user’s preference for comfort, style, performance, etc.

Most individuals in my study have experience with some level of air pollution. This background data suggested a comfortable protective device assists in providing clean air when commuting to work is the most sought after.Other times individuals noted they wear protection from air pollution include when using harsh chemicals in the home or workplace such as cleaning solvents.Individuals also noted other concerns with existing personal protection include sanitation and waste generation.

Individuals were then introduced to each concept and asked to rate their perception of each concept's portability, style, and comfort. The questions prompted the individuals to indicate where their perception ranges between a positive and negative point. The charts to the right display the average rating taken for each concept.
Based on the questions and strong favor for the pull up wrap and plantable filter I move forward drawing from both of these directions in my solution.
Consumer Validation

The design solution is achieved by injecting seeds between the layers of filter fabric.

To determine the success of the growable filter element, a testing protocol was used to evaluate decomposition and feasibility of seed growth between materials in existing filters, and the biodegradable materials selected in my solution.
  • Add the following to a container: 2 cups soil, 3 cups water
  • Place a once inch square fabric swatch one inch below the soil.
  • Keep keep containers open is in same environment (window sill) for 2 weeks
After two weeks, linen and soy-based fabrics proved to be easily malleable while the polyethylene textiles remained resilient.
I gathered data from The Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council Phytotechnologies Team to select a seed for the filter.
Proof of Concept

The impact of a growable air filter is immensely influenced by the wrap in which the filter is worn. A comfortable wearable is detrimental to its influence. A successful wearable desired by consumers will be the foundation for more growable filters to be used and purify polluted environments.

Results from the consumer validation survey indicated high interest in a pull-up wrap device. I began to integrate the growable filter into a face cover that could be worn around the neck when not in use. I followed a testing protocol to determine which of the concepts would be more desirable.

Fit Testing

After determining a direction for growable filter integrated pull up wrap, I explored various face fit and attachment methods. I used the same testing protocol as the previous round of development to determine popularity amongst the second round of concepts.

The second round of development testing provided me with preferences towards two directions. I merged the two directions front fit and securing method to reach my final outcome. The final outcome is a single piece of fabric with sewn elements to create a nose and chin fit. The final outcome uses a paracord locking feature to ensure a secure fit around the top and bottom of the wrap.

Through testing, Pollulate remains comfortable among different face shapes and sizes while supporting the growable air filter.

Unhealthy air quality is an immense concern. Air pollution is a fatal environmental issue. And while policy is the most effective method of reduction, millions die each year before these plans come into effect. Personal protective devices provide safe air for the population immediately, but the construction and waste generation of these synthetic fabric-based devices inherently produces further air pollution. Pollulate not only protects an individual from unhealthy air when worn, but further protects their surrounding environment from additional generation of air pollution. When the filter can no longer be used, its growable technology absorbs of the pollutants collected.


Pollulate features chord locking construction to ensure comfort and a secure seal around any facial structure. The wrap nature of its design allows the device to be worn around the neck when not in use.

To limit the amount of components in the growable filter, all wearable elements are compiled in the wrap. The wrap is to be used permanently and the filter replaced.

When designing a protective wearable device, I learned to further refine my process. Initially starting with a direction for nose plugs, through quantifiable testing, I was able to rely on data to make my decisions and arrive at a more impactful direction to solve the problems of the adverse environment of focus. Through this testing driven process, my design solution was able to be developed on a deeper level. Moving forward I would like to further develop the systematical context of my design solution. I see the potential for Pollulate to be issued on a greater level and rather than purchased and planted by an individual consumer, there’s an opportunity for larger-scale collection and planting for further impact to irradicating pollution.

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