Amazon, the big and multinational technology company which focuses on e-commerce has decided to enter into the game of indoor air quality in a rather surprising way. I will explain why in a minute.
In November 2021, Amazon announced that they will build and sell an air quality monitor. I was the first to discover that the monitor will feature the brand new SEN54 Node by Sensirion which is an all-in-one sensor solution for the measurement of particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), humidity, and temperature. Amazon offered a great deal to Sensirion because the Node isn’t available to others yet.
By the way, back in 2018, I contacted Amazon for the development of an Indoor Air Quality Monitor, but they weren’t aware of the Indoor AQ situation then, however, in the pandemic they grasped the business opportunity. Indoor AQ is a huge deal and even though they didn’t collaborate with me (no hard feelings).
- Particulate Matter Sensor (PM)
- VOC sensor (Chemicals)
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- RGB LED Light
All of these parameters are the basic elements to measure the Indoor Environmental conditions of a house and have a basic understanding of the health of the occupants. However, a CO sensor was not a wise choice in my opinion. The monitor should have had a carbon dioxide (CO2) sensor. I guess either the price was too high for their bill of material (BOM) or the availability was low for such a sensor. A carbon monoxide sensor makes sense only in a garage where you park your internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle or if you burn wood, but what’s the reason of having an AQM if you pollute your indoor air consciously?
The monitor has a surprisingly small footprint which is really great. The design of the monitor is also very nice and I think it will age well over the years. It is similar to the Smoke Sensor Fibaro. It comes with an A/C adapter and a cable (IKEA’s AQ Monitor VINDRIKTNING doesn’t come with any extras) and nice recyclable packaging. I hope more companies will follow and will ditch plastic packaging.
The price of the device 79,99€/$69.99/£69.99 has no competition! No other company can compete with them because they don’t pay any fees for the distribution and sale of the product on the site. In most cases, other companies need to pay a 30% cut to Amazon in order to be featured on the site.
The app sucks! If you don’t have an Alexa device in order to say “Alexa, what’s my air quality” (I am a HomeKit/Siri user) you need to click 4 times in order to go deep inside the app and find the measurements. Too much effort which will lead to avoidance and this is one of the reasons I will return the device. Even the settings are inconstant and hard to find, for example, if you want to change Fahrenheit to Celsius. The Amazon AQM needs its own app.
The AQ thresholds are very permissible especially for the PM measurements. 35μm/m3 of PM2.5 cannot be considered good for an indoor domestic environment where we spend 62% of our time.
I hate the fact that the monitor has a micro-USB port in 2022. Companies are moving away from this port and I have seen companies like Awair and ATMO adopting USB-C since 2018. I guess they had an available inventory of micro-USB or USB-C wasn’t available due to chip shortage. Amazon knew that is going to sell this AQM like crazy and they wanted to have all the electronic components in order to sell.
I don’t think we will see a second-generation device like this one in the future from Amazon though. Either the technology is going to be embedded inside an Echo dot or any other Alexa device like I originally proposed to Amazon back in 2018 or won’t be developed again. It is weird to have two Amazon devices with two cables and two A/C adapters side by side, one to ask questions about AQ and the other one to measure the AQ.
You can’t access your data! I want to have access to my data because they are mine. It’s not something that the mass will want, but again this is an area where Amazon and other big companies profit from. Personal data for advertisement reasons.
The monitor is nice and well designed but they did fail in a sense because to me the product feels like an extra. Air quality is not something extra for occupants, it is essential for a healthy environment and consequently, people and they already had the ecosystem to support it. The monitors are already out of stock but that doesn’t mean the product (app) doesn’t need improvements. Hopefully, they will deliver updates and they will continue supporting the product, something that other companies with many years of experience continue doing and I personally value.