Do you remember the Tamagotchi from the 90s? A small and portable digital pet that you had to take care of in order to keep it “alive”?
Wouldn’t it be great to create the same pet but with the only difference that it breathes air and air quality information is taken into account in order to determine its survival chances? I think it will engage people and help them not to get accustomed to the presence of poor AQ. Poor air quality can be due to the presence of particle pollution but also high CO2 levels indoors which will make the character sleepy.
A while ago, I wrote a similar article on Gamification and Air Quality. Same approach but even more fun! Kids will definitely try to keep the character alive, and it doesn’t even require hardware as it can be an app on your phone. Outdoor air quality data are available all over the world, so there is no problem there, but we need to think about how to implement indoor AQ data into the algorithm that calculates Tamagotchi’s health. Remember we spend most of our time indoors.
In this case, a small wearable monitor would be the best. However, 3rd party companies with Indoor AQ monitors will need to give access to the application that runs the companion character. That way, the character can be updated and engage with the user more often based on real data.
A software service will rise here as the company that decides to commercialize such a feature will have to build something similar to what Amazon, ecobee, or Apple with HomeKit provides in order to feed the app with air.
I don’t like the name Tamagotchi a lot, plus there are some copyright issues there, so let’s name our character Nicholas from the titular character of my kid’s books. Nicholas has superpowers and can see particulate pollutants. I cannot imagine a better companion!
The famous list with all the available indoor air quality monitors is finally updated. In this version there are two tabs. Air quality monitors for consumers (B2C) and for businesses (B2B). As always, I stay away from knockoffs and cheap products. An air quality monitor needs to function properly for 5 to 10 years depending the sensors − gas sensors tend to have a shorter lifespan.
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View Plus is the flagship air quality monitor from Airthings which was designed to address as many indoor parameters as possible and it complies with Green Building Certification.
The philosophy behind Airthings air quality monitors is simple. They try to make B2C and B2B clients’ life easy. One clear example is that all monitors, including the View Plus, work on simple AA batteries in order to avoid installation fees (from construction workers) and ugly cables running all over the walls.
I was given the chance to review an air quality monitor from a European company that is located in one of the most contaminated countries with the highest concentrations of particulate matter − the notorious pollutant which causes premature deaths and many illnesses.
Each year during the cold winter months, Bulgaria has the highest PM2.5 concentrations of all EU-28 member states in urban areas (I have the chance to experience it in person in Sofia). The reason is wood and coal burning. Senstate Technologies SC is a Bulgarian company with experience in the field of environmental issues.
The Senstate Urban Air Quality Station is a versatile and configurable air quality monitor with cutting-edge technologies on board, I will give you more information about it in a hot minute.
So many different types of sensors have become available in the market. For years we have seen and used Single (mainly) and Dual-Beam NDIR sensors for CO2 detection, but now another technology has surfaced, the Photoacoustic.
I decided to do a quick comparison of the different technologies in order to determine which one is the best and what are the differences if there is one. Price always affects the Bill of Material BOM, so we need to make a wise choice depending on the application of the sensor (commercial, real estate, industrial, scientific, etc).
Single and Dual Beam NDIR
CO2 is a gas with an asymmetric molecular structure that has strong absorption of infrared. This is the reason we use a Non-Dispersive Infrared NDIR sensor which is based on tunable diode laser spectroscopy.
More and more people choose to ride a bike for their daily commutes and although SODAQ AIR is not the first air quality monitor for a bike, it is the first to have collected over 20M data points. This is particularly import for the development of an IoT air quality monitor as the developers have enough information to debug and develop a super stable product that needs very little troubleshooting from its users.
SODAQ is not a new company as it was founded back in 2013, and they have been working on this particular project (SODAQ AIR) alone since 2015. It seems that consumer satisfaction is always their priority, which is very important nowadays as we need sustainable products that will last for a long time.
In the space of ambient air quality monitoring, there are two basic and distinctive categories of professional air quality monitors; the High-End Professional and Low-Cost Professional monitors. I have been asked multiple times to recommend monitors for scientific studies and the deployment of them in cities.
It is very important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of both categories. It is also mandatory to recognize the fact that we will never get the exact same measurement from either category of sensors.
High-End Professional AQA
High-End Professional ambient air quality analyzers are used mostly by governments inside the air quality stations we have in most cities. Their strength is that they meet international standards for accuracy and they are certified by the EU (and similar bodies) to meet minimum performance requirements, in order to ensure that the measurement methods comply with the Data Quality Objectives set down in the Ambient Air Quality Directive (2008/50/EC) and in the amending Directive (EU) 2015/1480. Their weakness is that they require lots of energy to operate. In most cases, they are inside a fixed container with a refrigeration system to keep conditions stable. They are big and boxy in size and very expensive to purchase and operate. Additionally, they need constant maintenance by a technician. Another weakness is that in most cases these analyzers are not smart enough to broadcast measurement in real-time to the Cloud and they require other pieces of equipment to do that job, as a result, the cost of operation increases.
The need for indoor air quality monitoring solutions hasn’t stopped increasing due to two main factors. The market is constantly demanding tailored solutions to meet Green Building standards and, of course, Covid19. Many have bought cheap and generic indoor AQ monitors from big retail stores, but after a while, they realized that their money went down the drain as there is nothing they can do with the data they obtained for two reasons. The AQ monitors didn’t keep the measurements or the accuracy of the data was poor.
Here comes Atmocube, a new indoor air quality monitor designed entirely to meet occupants’ requirements for indoor air quality. The design language is modern and functional. I underlined functional because you don’t need to be an expert to understand what is wrong with the IAQ and which specific parameter you need to address, I will explain more about it in a minute. Finally, the monitor is full of superb sensors, nine to be exact.
Time to talk seriously about ambient air pollution and how technology can help us see and consequently mitigate it. According to a 2016 report, the annual cost of air pollution has to the global health care system has risen to US$ 176 billion from US$ 21 billion in 2015 and the number of workdays lost to air pollution-related illness bounces to 3.7 billion from 1.2 billion. According to another report, ambient air pollution kills more than 3 million people across the globe every year but more importantly causes health problems that increase the annual health care budget.
Unfortunately, air pollution is not taken very seriously by governments and society because we tend to dismiss things we can’t see or understand. Here comes Kunak which is one of the leading companies in the field of monitoring air pollution accurately. Recently, the monitor Kunak Air PRO has been rewarded at the AirLab Challenge 2021 as the most accurate multi-pollutant ambient monitor and it is made in Spain.
Experts, academics, the city, and policymakers all need air quality monitors in order to quantify the ambient air, get the right conclusions about the situation, and finally, make the right decision on how to mitigate the pollution and the health care costs. As you can understand the accuracy of the monitor is very crucial and Kunak delivers great results.