Monitoring Clean Air
The arrival of this next product for review immediately brought back memories of a hit song from my youth. The song in question was entitled “The air that I breathe” by the Hollies while the product is the Foobot device from Airboxlab. The Foobot has been designed to alleviate the problem of air pollution. Co-incidentally the Foobot’s arrival came at the same time as the release of data that mortality rates, due to air pollution, were higher in the UK than many other comparable countries in Europe such as Spain, France and the Netherlands. In fact, according to WHO (World Health Organisation) report, the UK ranked 15th out of 50 European countries.
The Foobot is a device that has been designed to free-stand on a shelf or piece of furniture within easy reach of a mains power source using the supplied 160 cm lead and 3-pin adapter plug. The lead is permanently attached to the rear of the Foobot unit. The Foobot will also require access to a WiFi modem-router for Internet connectivity.
Standing upright, this off-white column structure has dimensions of 170 x 75 x 75 mm (H x W x D). Constructed of a series of panels attached together, the Foobot features two light emitting strips running down its front face. These light strips change colour from shades of blue to orange to indicate the quality of the surrounding air.
When setting up the hardware Foobot, you will need the downloadable free app from either the Android or iOS store. Once power has been added to the Foobot and the light strips have quickly flashed different colours before settling down to a blue hue, you can work your way through the various instructional screens displayed by the app. The Foobot and the smartphone, hosting the app, should be within five feet of each other for a reasonable initial contact.
The set up routine starts with the Foobot placed in an upside position while it has an attack of flashing lights. At the conclusion of this attack, you can return the Foobot to the correct way up before you enter the password details of your WiFi connection. After the Foobot has blinked for five times to indicate a WiFi connection has been established, you can create a free account by entering an email address, password and give your Foobot an appropriate name.
In order for the Foobot device to fulfil its function of monitoring air quality in its environment, up to 1500 square feet of continuous space with open air flow according to Airboxlab, it does require a period of six days for its built in sensors to adjust to the environment and become operational. While it might seem rather an excessive period of checking, it is fairly standard for a device of this type. During this period it was noticeable that there were some changes in the colour of the strip lighting being displayed. In some cases, the change was rather dramatic as the colour changed from blue to orange and then back again but generally it was more subtle as the light strips merged from blue at the bottom to a pale mauve at the top.
The app does not just perform a setting-up procedure. It also brings up visual representations of the Foobot findings regarding the quality the air quality within its remit. Based around a central number, which relates to a Global Index Value, indicating a quick glance of the air quality, are readings designated as Volatile, Compounds and Carbon dioxide which is not regarded as a pollutant by Airboxlab, more of a confinement indicator. There are also humidity and temperature readings. By clicking on the various elements, apart from humidity and temperature, additional information is revealed. This includes a scrollable timeline showing Global Index, Volatile, Compounds and Carbon dioxide information that can be viewed by minutes, hours, days or months.
Foobot is capable of issuing warnings to the user via the app. There are three types of warning designated as “Knock Knock”, Event detection and Overlooking. These warnings cover various type of incident and do not kick in until the six-day period of adjustment has taken place.
While you may feel that your home environment is reasonable clear of airborne pollution, you could be surprised by some of the main entries in the list of primary sources of indoor pollution. Maybe the surprise would not apply to the respiration and perspiration entitled by people plus pets and dust but have you thought of the effect caused by cleaning products, nail varnish, hair sprays and air fresheners which will all play their part in the production of air pollution.
Foobot is a monitoring device to recognise when air pollution occurs. It is easy to set up and generally can be left to its own devices. How you deal with the various incidents when informed of them by Foobot will depend entirely on you and the type of incident that has occurred.
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