As part of a Government-backed scheme to monitor the nation's air quality, pedestrians and cyclists have been roped in in urban areas of the UK and are being transformed into 'mobile pollution sensors'.
According to a report by Sky News, researchers, led by a team at Imperial College London, will trial three new types of sensors on people, vehicles and traffic islands to measure traffic emissions and noise pollution.
The three-year Environmental Sensing System Across Grid Environments (MESSAGE) initiative will receive data from 100 sensors in South Kensington, Leicester, Gateshead and Cambridge to test how they operate in different types of location.
"There is a lot that we do not know about air quality in our cities and towns because the current generation of large stationary sensors don't provide enough information," said professor John Polak.
"We envisage a future where hundreds and thousands of mobile sensors are deployed across the country, to improve the way we monitor, measure and manage pollution in our urban areas," he added.
The sensors will measure up to five different traffic pollutants simultaneously, including harmful nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxides.
The sensors, which are attached to pedestrians and cyclists, are small enough to fit into a pocket and can detect car pollutants and other contaminants including carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke.
They will transmit the data back via the wearer's mobile phone.
The scientists will also model pollution clouds in 3-D, by attaching sensors to traffic lights and street lamps to try to work out whether poor traffic signalling, for example, is causing air quality to deteriorate.
The air quality measurements and the location of each mobile sensor will be tracked on Google maps.