When we think about air quality, we tend to conjure up images of busy streets full of spewing vehicles. But our homes can also fall prey to poor air quality, which is where new gadget Foobot comes into play, say its makers.
Home or office – particulates aren’t picky
Foobot came into existence because Airboxlab CEO Jacques Touillon wanted to help his eldest child in his fight against asthma. An unsuccessful search for a device that could help assesses indoor air quality lead Touillon to get on and produce his own.
Indoor spaces can be up to five times more polluted than the outdoors, simply because they are more confined, making it difficult for particulates to disperse. Foobot detects problems and then helps people mitigate them.
While Foobot is aimed primarily at home users, it is appropriate for the workplace too. After all, particulates aren’t picky about the environments they contaminate.
Seek, detect, inform
Foobot scans the environment around it in real time and uses internal sensors to measure VOCs, PM2.5s, CO2, temperature and humidity. It logs information at five-minute intervals and has lots of ways of sharing what it learns.
Foobot will share information, for example, with Amazon Echo, Google Nest and, through IFTTT, with more than 120 other connected home appliances, including HIVE. So its information can be used to help trigger ventilation, filtration and purification systems and appliances that help to fix the problems it detects.
The Foobot itself will give an indication of air quality through lighting that’s built into it, changing color to indicate whether all is OK or there’s poor air quality.
There is also a companion app for Android and iOS that will show air quality information, deliver warnings, and provide tips on improving air quality. Users can even set Foobot up to tweet whenever air pollution rises above a set threshold.
Forewarned is forearmed
Because Foobot monitors the environment so frequently, it can help users understand if there are particular causes of poor air quality, so they can take steps to stop quality falling in the first place.
Adrien Lafond, chief marketing officer at Foobot told Internet of Business that “Foobot is currently conducting an experiment with its community of users where it is able to predict with a 94 percent accuracy the kind of pollution events which regularly occur in average households.
“This could include a home fragrance, cooking odors or a household cleaner and users tag their own pollution event. Each user doing so has benefits for the whole community and will enable Foobot to learn from this data over time.”
There are lots of possible substances for which Foobot can monitor. Adrien Lafond told us how the choices were made.
“PM2.5 are what we call the “physical” pollutants: they’re harmful to the body mainly because of their small size. PM2.5 are everywhere indoors and outdoors so it’s a must have. VOCs are another sort of pollutants, nasty chemicals in short that you can find easily in any household: cleansers, bleach, hair dye, nail polish, mothballs and insect powders. The levels of these pollutants strongly depend on temperature and humidity, so it made sense to include these sensors too.”
What Foobot monitors:
- PM2.5s – Particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers, like dust, pollen and pet dander.
- VOCs – Volatile organic compounds, toxic gases like formaldehyde and ammonia. This sensor is also sensitive to carbon monoxide, a potentially dangerous gas.
- Carbon dioxide – Exhaled naturally from humans. Not itself harmful, but indicative of poor air circulation. This is measured via data from other sensors.
- Humidity – Low humidity can cause irritation. Excessive humidity allows mold and dust mites to flourish.
- Temperature – Mostly for comfort, but still important to optimize.