A man at an underground train platform with the Aerate product around his neck

A man wearing Aerate - a neck-worn air purifier designed to improve air quality for underground train users.

Student designs wearable purifier to protect underground train users and improve air quality

Commuters on underground trains worldwide may soon breathe easier, thanks to an invention by a ҹƬ student.

Mia holding Aerate outside of ҹƬ's Hazlerigg building

Mia Patterson Cox with an Aerate prototype.

Mia Patterson Cox, a recent Industrial Design and Technology graduate, has created ‘Aerate’, a neck-worn air purifier designed to improve air quality for underground train users by filtering out harmful particles present in the environment.

In underground train environments, PM2.5 refers to particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size — about 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

These tiny particles are of concern as they . Breathing in unhealthy levels of PM2.5 .

Wheel, track, and brake abrasion are often the Poor ventilation in platforms and tunnels

Mia first became aware of the pollution problem during her placement year in London as she frequently used underground trains to get to different places.

“I often thought about the hot stuffy environment and would be concerned when I found dust around my nostrils after travelling on underground trains”, said Mia, “It made me feel uneasy about the time I spent in the network, prompting me to explore the problem of pollution.

“I wanted to create a product that will increase commuter and passengers’ health confidence when travelling underground by removing iron-rich particles in the air.”

Mia designed Aerate to create a clean bubble of breathable air around a user's face. It features two fans and Spunbond Polypropylene (SBPP) filters. The fans draw air in and the filters catch particles as small as 2.5 micrometers.

Aerate on a blue podium against a blue background

Aerate, a product designed by Mia Patterson Cox.

The fans propel purified air in front of the user's face at 5500 rotations per minute. This continuous flow creates a protective barrier against harmful particles during underground travel, says Mia.

Aerate aims to enhance air quality not only for the wearer but for other commuters too.

Mia explained: "I purposely didn’t want to create a product that benefited only the users. By continuously filtering out iron particles and other pollutants, Aerate contributes to a healthier environment for all passengers travelling on underground trains.”

In addition to the wearable product, Mia has designed an Aerate app that connects to a particle sensor within the device, providing live data readings on particle exposure.

This app also tells users when it is time to change their filters, which are effective for up to 40 hours of use.

Aerate app on a phone and tablet

Mia has designed an app to accompany the wearable Aerate product. 

Mia envisions the app being used to help users plan low-pollution journeys by leveraging aggregated data contributed anonymously by Aerate owners.

This data will offer insights into total particle exposure, identify pollution hot spots, and suggest routes that minimise exposure while optimising speed, convenience, and cost-effectiveness for commuters.

A prototype of the Aerate wearable has been developed, featuring adjustable fan heads, albeit without integrated electronics at this stage.

Mia has conducted extensive rounds of experience prototyping using handheld fans and flour as a substitute for small particles. These tests illustrate Aerate's capability to effectively shield users from airborne particles, says Mia, showcasing its potential effectiveness in real-world scenarios.

Three images showing testing of the fans with a fake white head, the other image to the right is of the Aeate prototype.

Left images show experience prototyping using handheld fans and flour. Image to the right is the Aerate prototype.

Of the ultimate goal for her product, Mia said: "Without Aerate, respiratory conditions can be aggravated, hindering people from reaching their full potential.

"I aim to pave the way for a safer travel experience on underground trains, promoting health and confidence among users and commuters alike."

Aerate was featured in the School of Design and Creative Arts Degree Show and Foundation Exhibition Student Showcase 2024. For more information on the product, visit the exhibition’s

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 24/88

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