MaRTiny—A Low-Cost Biometeorological Sensing Device With Embedded Computer Vision for Urban Climate Research

Karthik K. Kulkarni, Florian A. Schneider, Tejaswi Gowda, Suren Jayasuriya, Ariane Middel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Extreme heat puts tremendous stress on human health and limits people’s ability to work, travel, and socialize outdoors. To mitigate heat in public spaces, thermal conditions must be assessed in the context of human exposure and space use. Mean Radiant Temperature (MRT) is an integrated radiation metric that quantifies the total heat load on the human body and is a driving parameter in many thermal comfort indices. Current sensor systems to measure MRT are expensive and bulky (6-directional setup) or slow and inaccurate (globe thermometers) and do not sense space use. This engineering systems paper introduces the hardware and software setup of a novel, low-cost thermal and visual sensing device (MaRTiny). The system collects meteorological data, concurrently counts the number of people in the shade and sun, and streams the results to an Amazon Web Services (AWS) server. MaRTiny integrates various micro-controllers to collect weather data relevant to human thermal exposure: air temperature, humidity, wind speed, globe temperature, and UV radiation. To detect people in the shade and Sun, we implemented state of the art object detection and shade detection models on an NVIDIA Jetson Nano. The system was tested in the field, showing that meteorological observations compared reasonably well to MaRTy observations (high-end human-biometeorological station) when both sensor systems were fully sun-exposed. To overcome potential sensing errors due to different exposure levels, we estimated MRT from MaRTiny weather observations using machine learning (SVM), which improved RMSE. This paper focuses on the development of the MaRTiny system and lays the foundation for fundamental research in urban climate science to investigate how people use public spaces under extreme heat to inform active shade management and urban design in cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number866240
JournalFrontiers in Environmental Science
StatePublished - May 12 2022


  • mean radiant temperature (MRT)
  • shade detection
  • thermal sensing
  • urban heat
  • urban microclimate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'MaRTiny—A Low-Cost Biometeorological Sensing Device With Embedded Computer Vision for Urban Climate Research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this