Low-cost sensors are a current trend in citizen science projects that focus on air quality. Until now, devices incorporating such sensors have been tested primarily for their technical capabilities and limitations, whereas their usability and acceptability amongst the public rarely goes beyond proof of concept, leaving user experience (UX) unstudied. The authors argue that UX should be taken into account to make sure that products and services are fit for purpose. Nineteen volunteers tested and evaluated a prototype device and provided feedback through semi-structured interviews and during focus group sessions. Their UX was then coded using mixed coding methods regarding device functionality and recommendations for future product development. The results indicate that UX can identify potentially problematic design aspects while giving deeper insights into user needs. For example, UX recognized that one of the most important aspects of user involvement and motivation was successful data harvesting, which frequently failed. This study recommends that future developers of low-cost portable air quality sensor systems prioritize reliable data transmission to minimize data loss. This will ensure an efficient and positive UX that supports user engagement in citizen science based research where collecting sensor-based data is the primary objective.
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