The creation of a community where citizens can collect and share environmental data, contribute to scientific research, and carry out actionable change worldwide.



In the past, canary birds were brought down to coal mines to detect methane, an odorless and fatal gas. Upon detection, the bird would react, alerting the miners to evacuate the area, potentially saving their lives. With this idea, we thought: how might we give citizens the tools to better understand their environment?

Canary is a system of products that aims to empower citizen scientists by creating a community where citizens can collect and share environmental data, contribute to scientific research, and carry out actionable change worldwide.

*Group project sponsored by Google. Members: April Cheung (Graphics), Kelsey Chow (Graphics), India Hillis (Product), and Joe Tsao (Product).

My Role: ID, UX, Storytelling, Illustration


Canary leverages two major existing platforms, among others: the geoaching crowd and existing citizen science participants. Equipped with power in numbers and socially active users, Canary seeks to tackle diverse and significant environmental concerns.

Case studies in the past include: the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, where there was an urgent need to quickly collect radioactive data points over a large area, and the Flint Water Crisis, where a government's corruption led to permanent damage in residents that drank its contaminated water. These issues, amongst others, could easily have been solved if a system like Canary was in place to equip the general public to act quickly, as well as inform citizens of the invisible qualities of their immediate environments. 




Canary allows citizens to conduct meaningful science through the pairing of both its products and its mobile app. Modules measure aspects of water, air, and earth. When users pair their mobile devices to the environmental sensors, the data is recorded and uploaded to Canary's social network. These globally collected data points also become an added layer of information to Google Map's filter views. This way, anyone can contribute and benefit from Canary's publicly viewable information.


The app allows users to browse and purchase sensors from Canary's catalog of measuring devices. When paired with a device, the on-screen digital interface visually communicates to the user the quality of whatever element they are measuring.

Most importantly, the social platform offered through the mobile app informs the users as well and empowers them by providing a social platform where they can visually reference the conditions of their immediate environments.

Canary makes science fun through its unconventional approach. The physical products further this idea by playfully re-imagining how traditional science tools are manifested. The modular charging station is comprised of individual wall pegs from which you can hang the handheld sensors. 

When additional pegs make contact to another directly next to it, the electric current is carried over, making it possible to power a series of charging docks with one charge cable. Hanging from the wall pegs, the clasp/carry strap acts as a conduit by which to charge the handheld sensors.


Canary measures three categorical elements: Air, Soil, and Water. The Air Modules measure qualities of the air as they are waved around; Soil Modules can be uncapped to reveal prongs that collect information like pH, moisture, and acidity when staked in the ground; Water Modules fetch information about water that runs through it as the user ladles it into various bodies of water.

With this vision, we hope to encourage a global understanding that not only educates the curious, but equips the informed to make impactful changes in their environments.