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Pasadena Team Scintilla Wins 2016 NASA Space Apps Challenge Global Award

By Michelle Garrett — May 27, 2016
The 2016 NASA Space Apps Challenge hackathon event was the largest in its five year history with 1,287 projects being submitted by teams in close to 200 cities around the world. NASA has announced that team Scintilla - competing out of Pasadena, CA - has won the global award for the Best Use of Data. NASA also announced four other global winners in other contest categories ranging from Best Mission Concept and Most Inspirational to Galactic Impact and Best Use of Hardware. Each of the global winning teams has been invited by NASA to attend the upcoming OSIRIS-REx launch in Florida this September. Scintilla team members Chelsea Graf, Chris Del Guercio, Eric Gustafson, Konrad Ludwig, and Kyle Spitznagel provided a solution for NASA’s “Aircheck” challenge to develop an app or platform to crowd-source information for comparing changes in environmental factors, such as temperature, relative humidity, and air pollution with occurrences of symptoms of allergies and respiratory diseases. Scintilla’s winning solution uses social media and Microsoft Azure’s cognitive services to collect realtime human sentiment on air quality and combines this information with data from their own local ground sensor network, the EPA’s monitoring stations, and NASA’s earth orbiting satellites to calculate the air quality for any location on earth. This data can then be used by hospitals, universities, and others to better understand the impact of air pollution. “The Scintilla team has nailed it on all fronts,” said Joe Brisbois, NASA Space Apps Pasadena organizer. “Their innovative solution integrates multiple data sources into a clever and cost effective system that can realistically be scaled to help combat a major problem facing the world today. This is exactly the type of creative thinking and collaborative teamwork that makes NASA Space Apps such an exciting and impactful event each year.” In addition to being named as a NASA Global Winner, the Scintilla team was also honored with the Supplyframe Design Lab Award for the best use of a physical component in their Space Apps solution. A major component of the Scintilla solution is their air quality sensor device which consists of components including Intel Edison and Arduino Uno boards, as well as a variety of sensors that measure gas, dust, temperature, and humidity. These low cost sensor devices will be able to be deployed around the world to create a scalable ground-based air monitoring system. As recipients of this Supplyframe award, the Scintilla team will continue to develop their solution during a two month residency at the new Supplyframe Design Lab in Pasadena (opening June 23rd) where they will be able to use cutting edge manufacturing and prototyping tools to quickly take their idea to the next level. “I’m not alone in my excitement to follow the Scintilla team as they push ahead with their innovative work over the coming months,” continued Brisbois. “Pasadena is the perfect environment to develop a project like this and there are many tech, science, and design leaders here who are anxious to support and encourage the team. On behalf of all of us, I congratulate Scintilla on their global success!” For more information on the Scintilla Team project, please visit: NASA Space Apps Pasadena was made possible through the generous support of Microsoft, Intel, Socrata, CDW-G, Cross Campus, Supplyframe, Carnegie Observatories, and To The Stars, with community support provided by Innovate Pasadena.
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