Skip to main content
Pollen Measuring Device
Diana Zapf-Deniz | Universitätsklinikum Augsburg

With the Help of AI: Additional Pollen Measuring Device Provides Details in Real-Time

Environmental Health, IEM,

Environmental scientists in Augsburg from IEM / Helmholtz Munich and the University Hospital Augsburg are now using a cutting-edge measuring device capable of detecting complex aerosols, among them for example very small pollen, or other particles. Most of the fungal spores are considerably smaller than pollen, more difficult to identify correctly under a light microscope and are currently not reliably measurable with state-of-the-art automatic pollen monitors. Poleno Jupiter, however, can be trained to identify specific particles such as fungal spores. Fungal spores hold considerable importance for individuals with allergies, especially at high humidity levels.

The new pollen measuring device Swisens' Poleno Jupiter has been set up in 2023. Together with the two previously installed instruments the IEM scientists around Prof. Traidl-Hoffmann will detect a wide range of different sizes of allergy-triggering particles in the air. The new device can detect complex bioaerosols, which are airborne particles of biological origin, in real-time. Every particle that enters the device will be identified through its holographic image and fluorescence spectra, used as inputs for a deep learning algorithm, which will improve the exactness of automatic identification of pollen.

Training makes pollen meter more efficient

Another exciting feature lies in the researchers' ability to actively train the device. They are training the system by feeding specific particles into it to create particle-specific libraries, in order to be able to effectively optimize its artificial intelligence and data analysis algorithms. This process demands significant effort, but the team is optimistic about eventually sharing this valuable data with the public in Augsburg.

Moreover, this cutting-edge device gathers and provides data in much less time, offering a more detailed picture of pollen levels throughout the day and a finer understanding of how weather conditions affect pollen intensity. Weighing only 26 kilograms, the 'Poleno' is portable and adaptable. This makes it suitable for outdoor experiments, indoor air quality assessments, or focused short-term lab investigations.

By using three distinct devices to measure pollen concentration together with an air quality station, researchers will not only compare the accuracy of different methods, but they will also identify strengths and weaknesses, ultimately driving further the optimization of the automated devices. It is known that pollen reduces the local immune response of the mucous membranes, therefore, it is also important in the context of pandemic prevention to know how much pollen is in the air in the event of an infection with airborne pathogens. Helmholtz Munich acquired the device with funding from the EU, supported by the State of Bavaria to improve research infrastructure for pandemic management under the PerForM-REACT project. It is being used in cooperation with the University Hospital Augsburg.