Forty-three-year-old Gary Dusek is exemplary of the kind of dedication and creativity that goes into becoming an Imagine Blue student finalist. “I returned to school later in life,” he says, “to learn and explore lifelong interests in environmental science, sustainability, and design. I earned my high school diploma in 2016, as well as my Associates degree in Fine Arts/Design, and I am now a sophomore in the BFA Interior Design program at The New School.”
Deeply interested in sustainability and environmental design, Gary was inspired to create his Imagine Blue entry out of simple need. “The DeMeter was inspired by the necessity to gather local environmental data for projects and experiments relating to sustainable design. My Sustainable Systems teacher, Diana Trushell, was also a major influence in creating this concept. In order to inform effective design interventions, we must have reliable, site specific data. I was working on various custom sensors using Arduino and other open sourced hardware, when I realized this was taking a lot of valuable time away from my projects. I wanted to focus more on solving environmental issues, empowering individuals and communities, and generally putting reliable data in the hands of the people. I realized that what I needed did not really exist, so I would have to make it.”
Gary’s device, the DeMeter, measures environmental conditions and sends its data via Bluetooth® technology to a smartphone app. Demeter’s 12 onboard sensors measure things like air and water quality, temperature, moisture content, and more. It uses open source hardware and software, so that its sensors and capabilities can be modified and expanded upon. A six-pin connector and USB connector allow it to communicate with other devices, but those aren’t necessary to use DeMeter; all you really need is the device itself and the smartphone app, which helps you interpret DeMeter’s raw data.
Bluetooth was the obvious choice to communicate DeMeter’s data to the app because of its low power requirements and quick data transfer. Bluetooth also obviates the need for wifi or onsite electricity (DeMeter can run on a solar cell), which are important considerations for field work.
Gary and the DeMeter team envision all sorts of uses for the device, from measuring your charcoal grill’s emissions and testing soil quality to industrial design applications. DeMeter is right in line with Gary’s interests: “I am passionate about general environmental responsibility,” he says. “My favorite subject in school is Sustainable Systems. It makes me feel good to come up with a cool design that is also beneficial by minimizing waste, utilizing sustainable resources, or reduces harm to the environment. Creating a sustainable system is a good business practice as well. Sustainability makes sense in both a practical and ideological way.”
Gary’s interest in sustainability comes from way back. “I grew up in Silicon Valley,” he says, “so I certainly was inspired by people like William Hewlett and David Packard…My grandfather is also a mentor and inspiration; he’s a staunch conservationist and was avidly restoring old Ford Fairlane cars from junk car parts well into his 80s.”
It’s no surprise that Gary is interested in recycling, just like his grandad. “I am currently working on a Micro-3D Printer made from discarded CD ROMs and e-waste,” he tells us. “I often comb the internet looking for concepts that re-use waste or obsolete electronics, and attempt to integrate those designs into a working model.” We can’t wait to see Bluetooth used in a device that reuses old components to create a new development in the IoT.