The Internet of Things has largely been about comfort and convenience. But thanks to Airboxlab’s Foobot device, smart buildings can now automatically clean the air as it gets dirty, protecting occupants from the pollutants that regularly spawn from daily life and improving their health.
Foobot is the first device to act on indoor pollution. It uses internal sensors to check for pollution in the form of chemicals and particulate matter, which are up to eight times more common indoors as a result of confinement. When any of these pollutants exceed healthy levels, it can now relay this information back and forth with Amazon Echo, Google Nest and IFTTT. Echo can talk about the problem to you via voice and suggest solutions, while Nest and IFTTT can directly switch on devices like air vents, filters, and purifiers that fix the problem (a feature coming soon to Echo, as well).
With Foobot, occupants breathe cleaner air, resulting in healthier and even longer lives, without having to give air quality a second thought. Foobot is the first indoor air quality monitor to do this automatically. Examples of interactions include:
- Turning on a filter after cleaning the living room kicks dust into the air
- Cycling air via the air vents after cooking a pot roast released oil fumes into the kitchen
- Opening an air duct in the bathroom each time someone uses hairspray
- Boosting ventilation after using bleach, ammonia or any other strong cleaning chemicals, or whenever there’s a carbon monoxide leak
Indoor air pollution isn’t just a threat at home. We spend an average of 90% of our lives indoors, whether in a school, office, hotel, hospital or shopping mall. Aside from long-term health benefits, breathing clean air keeps people awake and productive, so they can work, study and play.
Clean air is even more critical for people suffering or recovering from health issues. At hospitals, well-circulated air can minimize the spread of airborne diseases. Since children are particularly susceptible to asthma, clean air in schools is perhaps more important than at home given their high occupancies. Roughly 66 million Americans suffer from some kind of respiratory condition that pollution can exacerbate.
Foobot originally launched late 2015 as the “Good Air Guru.” It monitored the air in real time so it can give actionable alerts and tips to its user whenever there’s a problem, through its companion app and the LEDs on the device itself. The device is sensitive to:
- 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 circulation.
- Humidity – Low humidity can cause irritation. Excessive humidity let mold and dust mites grow.
- Temperature – Mostly for comfort, but still important to optimize.