Indian American seventh grader receives Lemelson Early Inventor Award for lung-saving system


An Indian American seventh grader from Georgia has won this year’s Lemelson Early Inventor Award for developing a system that could potentially save people’s lungs, especially those affected by asthma and COPD.

The Lemelson Foundation awards the Lemelson Early Inventor Award to outstanding young inventors in Society Affiliate Fairs with middle school participants around the country. The prize was especially created to reward young inventors whose projects exemplify the ideals of inventive thinking by identifying challenges in their communities and creating solutions that will improve lives.

Om Guin, a seventh grader at Fulton Science Academy Private School in Alpharetta, Georgia saw that several family members suffer from asthma. He would see them check pollen counts before going out, and this, he says, made him curious about what causes and aggravates lung diseases.

It is known that particulate matter suspended in air are a major cause for aggravation of lung diseases. Particulate pollution is pollution of an environment that consists of particles suspended in some medium. Atmospheric particulate matter, also known as particulate matter, or PM, can be solids and/or liquid particles suspended in air.

The source of this PM can be mineral dust volcanoes, dust storms, forest and grassland fires, living vegetation and sea spray. Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels in vehicles, wood burning, stubble burning, power plants, road dust, wet cooling towers in cooling systems and various industrial processes, also generate significant amounts of particulates.

Interestingly, Om found through his research that air in the homes can be as bad or even worse than air outside. This led him to think of solutions to make air better for family members.

According to the Society for Science, Om used a forced-air, laser-based sensor to build a pair of devices that measure and record the particulate matter content of the air at frequent intervals. “The devices are capable of measuring particulate matter up to 0.3 microns in size. Om then connected a Raspberry Pi Zero to the interface of the sensor to record the measurements and wrote a Python script to turn on the sensor every five minutes and record the data in a file. The two devices communicate with each other over Wi-Fi to exchange sensor data,” the Society for Science said in an online article.

Om demonstrated to the judging committee that the indoor device has an extra speaker to alert inhabitants of actions they can take to improve indoor air quality, such as opening the windows or turning on the air conditioning. “The outdoor device is splash-proof and powered by a solar panel, which allows it to keep running continuously over several months,” the Society for Science said.

It added, “To test the system, which he calls Lungsaver, Om checked the relative accuracy of the two sensors comparing the readings over several months. With the data collected from the devices, he performed a paired-t-test to establish that the indoor and outdoor measurements had significant differences at a 95% level of confidence.”

Om is not new to winning the Lemelson Award. He won it in 2021 as well for developing a a voice-enabled smart pillbox.