Young French entrepreneur designs a smart scarf to help protect people from air pollution

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After winning a Cisco sponsored innovation challenge, a young French entrepreneur created a smart scarf to help protect people from air pollution.

If you live in a big city, you know the air you breathe in simply by walking down the street can be unhealthy. Caroline Van Rentegerghem worried about the air quality when she worked in Paris. "I was biking every day to go to work or to go to my meetings, so I was always breathing in the emissions of the cars, and at a certain point, I started to feel sick," Rentegerghem said.

She wanted to protect herself from the air pollution, but she knew using her scarf wasn't cutting it. "It was totally placebo and no protection at all," Rentegerghem said.

That's when she came up with the idea of her smart scarf and created her company called Wair. "Wair is the association of a fashion accessory and the real protection against pollution," Rentegerghem explained.

How it Works

The scarf, which has a filter hidden inside, works with an app that alerts you when the air quality dips below a certain level. The technology combines fashion with health solutions and marries three of Rentegerghem's passions; fashion, business and the environment. "I always wanted to be an entrepreneur but it was very important to me to create a company that would have meaning and would make the world better," Rentegerghem said.

Cisco Partnership

Having an idea is important, but Cisco helped turn that idea and dream into a reality. She entered into a Cisco sponsored innovation challenge called "Switch-up Challenge" and won. "Once we won the Switch-up Challenge that gave me the confidence to really ceate the company and build that project for good," Rentegerghem said." It was really the first time that I thought it really could be a real start-up."

WAIR is continuing to innovate and improve on their original prototype, but their scarf is now available for pre-order.

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About Liza Meak @lizameak

Liza Meak is a Manager of Social Media Communications at Cisco. She writes and produces content for The Network, Cisco's technology news site.