In 2021, IKEA made available an indoor air quality monitor, which is very very affordable. I bought one because I was curious to answer some basic questions like how did they manage to build and sell a particulate matter sensor that costs only 14€ or US$12 but also how smart and reliable is it in relation to other monitors.
IKEA is obsessed with naming all their products with Swedish words, so the AQ monitor VINDRIKTNING (which I can’t pronounce) translates as Wind Direction. Obviously, they don’t aim to create names memorable to people’s minds.
Let me share a story with you. Long before covid19 (2018 if I remember well) I and a company I worked for, decided to pitch IKEA into building an AQ monitor as I saw their interest in air quality because they designed some photocatalyst curtains that neutralized VOCs back then. Unfortunately, they turned us down, but I think we planted a seed into them. Long story short in 2021 they released the VINDRIKTNING.
- Particulate Matter Sensor Cubic Sensor PM1006K
- 1 Green / 1 Yellow / 1 Red LED
- USB-C connector
That’s all and apparently, the monitor isn’t smart as it doesn’t communicate with smartphones either the internet, so it isn’t considered an Internet of Things (IoT) device. Make sure to have a spare USB-C cable and power adapter as the device comes without them. No temperature and no humidity, which are fundamental parameters in indoor environmental sensing.
It is difficult to quantify accuracy as the monitor doesn’t store measurements nor broadcast them anywhere. Some experts have managed to connect the device to the cloud via an ESP8266 WiFi module, here you can find more information.
The Cubic Sensor PM1006K is an infrared LED particle counter. The LED light generates reflected light when meet particles and a photoelectric diode detects the light intensity of reflected light, judging very generously the particle concentration according to the pulse signal. Unfortunately, the PM1006K is not a very accurate sensor in comparison with laser particle counters. The LED light isn’t precise enough and the optics inside the sensors are of poor quality.
Does it matter? Well, not so much for the IKEA monitor because the colour LEDs in front of the monitor will only state Good (Green), Moderate (Yellow), and Poor (Red) air quality.
This is a super basic AQ monitor which from my point of view works more as an educational tool rather than a quantifier of air pollution indoors. It gives you a sense of the air quality, but it can also misinterpret the indoor AQ.
They managed to keep the price down by not developing hardware firmware, software for iOS, Android apps, and server backends, and by choosing a low-cost sensor that it doesn’t cost more than 2.48€ or even less. Cables and adapters weren’t included and packaging is minimal as you can see from the images.
The monitor lacks basic functions. If you would like to teach your kids about air quality then buy one, but unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do with it. IKEA also sells an air purifier that is NOT able to communicate with the monitor and vise versa. Automation and smart homes are not on their Air Quality agenda yet. Maybe they are testing the waters before they realize that my initial offer for a better indoor AQ monitor was valid. IKEA is investing in smart homes but they are taking baby steps.