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User-centered design of an air quality feedback technology to promote adoption of clean cookstoves



Recent work has examined behavioral reactivity associated with personal awareness of electronic sensors monitoring the use of environmental health products, including cookstoves. These studies suggest that sensors could be used as behavior change tools.


We present a human-centered design approach toward the development of a household air quality feedback technology intended to improve consistent and exclusive use of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) stoves provided as part of a health efficacy study.


We found through a consultation process that households may be behaviorally triggered by reminders of the health and environmental impacts of cooking practices and may respond to both auditory and visual feedback. Based on these insights, we designed and validated a system linking air particulate monitoring with persistent visual feedback and a dynamic audio alarm.


Data collected over 14 days in participants households show that the system is able to detect sudden rises in household indoor air pollution and to communicate that information to household members.


This device could be used as a tool to raise awareness of air pollution associated in order to stimulate adoption of cleaner cooking technologies.

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Fig. 1: Example cards used during the HCD process to investigate factors that may drive behavior change.
Fig. 2: An air quality feedback system to promote improved adoption of LPG cookstoves.
Fig. 3: System diagram showing electronic components of the air quality feedback system.
Fig. 4: The HAPIN Zero Tool.
Fig. 5: The feedback system installed (upper left) in a home kitchen in Rwanda.
Fig. 6: PM2.5 concentrations over a 14 days period in two households that helped design the air quality feedback system.


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The authors would like to thank Florien Ndagijimana, Gislaine Rosa, Thomas Clasen, Michael Johnson, and Pie Nkubito.


This work is funded by TRANSFORM, a partnership between Unilever and the United Kingdom Department for International Development. Additional funding support provided by the National Science Foundation (Award Number 1738321), and the Autodesk Foundation.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Evan A. Thomas.

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Conflict of interest

Authors Thomas, Sharpe and Wilson are compensated employees of SweetSense Inc., an affiliated company contracted for part of the work described in this paper. Human Subjects Approval. The HCD consultation protocol was reviewed by the Portland State University Institutional Review Board and a determination was made of “review not required” (record number 174324, September 12, 2017), as no personal information was collected or retained through the consultations. The deployment of the sensors within households, and the exit surveys conducted were reviewed and approved by the University of Colorado Institutional Review Board (record number 18-0365, approved October 9, 2018) and the Rwanda National Ethics Committee (approved October 19, 2018). All human subjects provided informed consent.

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Iribagiza, C., Sharpe, T., Wilson, D. et al. User-centered design of an air quality feedback technology to promote adoption of clean cookstoves. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 30, 925–936 (2020).

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  • User interactive feedback
  • Household air quality
  • HAP
  • PM2.5
  • behavioral intervention
  • Cook-stoves
  • Rwanda


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