Connected Objects Health and Wellness Sensors/IoT

uHoo version 2. Smart air quality sensor returns with a new look

Unbeknownst to many, indoor air is usually two to five times worse than outdoor air. And as a whole, air quality is the single largest environmental hazard in the world today. Not many people do much about the air inside, though, because they simply don’t know. The lightweight, portable uHoo smart air quality sensor empowers people to act using exact readings of the surrounding air quality.

The uHoo’s soda can-like form belies the eight dedicated sensors it uses to compile accurate air quality readings for a completely open space of 400 square feet. Not only is temperature, humidity, air pressure and dust accounted for, but uHoo keeps an eye on some of the nastier stuff like PM 2.5, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds (VOC) as well.

Smart Home

The Grail sniffs out carbon monoxide, shuts down furnaces

Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are among the most important devices that consumers can buy for their homes.

patent-claimedThe Grail is a new patent-pending CO and gas detector that allows users to shut down their furnaces from outside their homes if CO or gas leaks are detected. It can also be used to activate lights and sirens, and shut down an electrical breaker. The plan is for the Grail to ship in March and for it to cost $129-$149 at retail, although the first 100 Kickstarter backers can get one for $75. Its maker is looking to raise $200,000 by Aug. 28.

There will probably always be consumers looking to buy a CO detector. The Grail’s maker says that what sets it apart from rival devices is that it’s the first one offering the same capabilities with UL certification at an affordable price. There have, of course, been many CO detectors before this, including the Air Mentor, and it’s not clear if The Grail’s features and pricing combination will be enough to hook many consumers.


Air Mentor shows the lighted sides of contaminated environs

The carbon monoxide detector is a must-have device. But there are many potential toxins in the air other than carbon monoxide that can be dangerous to people also — especially the very young and elderly and those with compromised immune systems and respiratory ailments.

Air Mentor is a Bluetooth Smart device with built-in industrial grade sensors that measure home air quality and can detect pollutants including carbon dioxide, particulate matters and volatile organic compounds such as carbon monoxide, aromatic hydrocarbons and organic acids. The triangular device can be placed on any flat surface in the home or office, and is used in conjunction with an Android or iOS app. Cloud computing software automatically analyzes indoor air patterns.

One of five colors lights up on the device to signal the air’s quality: green for good air quality, yellow for moderate, orange meaning the air is unhealthy for sensitive people such as those with asthma, red meaning the air is unhealthy for everybody, and purple signaling very unhealthy air. The device costs $249 and ships in May. Its maker is hoping to raise $15,500 by May 8.

Air Mentor holds promise, especially for consumers with compromised immune systems and those with chronic respiratory conditions including asthma. But consumers looking for a more portable device that performs some of the same functions might opt for something like the Scarab wearable air pollutant detector.


Sensors/IoT Smart Home

Aria detects radon and IAQ, reports it to your smartphone

Pollution is a big problem, but it’s not one that’s limited only to big cities or industrialized areas. The truth is that indoor air quality, or lack thereof, is the cause of thousands of deaths each year, whether it’s carbon monoxide or the harder to detect and deadlier radon.

Aria is a home air quality monitor that can detect radon and other pollutants and report on air quality in real time, giving homeowners plenty of time to react and protect themselves from harmful gases. Aside from the colorful light indicating air quality on the device’s exterior, Aria can also push notifications using a Wi-Fi network to owners’ phones, alerting them of an issue with the air at home even from a distance.

While Aria’s light functions with some basic indicators (green means good, red means bad), more detailed information is uploaded at all times to the app, letting users know when to ventilate or call for outside help if necessary. Aria breaks this information down hour by hour, giving a detailed report of when pollutants are entering the home. Aria developer RSens is asking for $95,000 to offset manufacturing costs. The device itself costs $99 for early supporters and is expected to launch September 2015.

It’s hard to be overly cautious when dealing with something that could be potentially life-threatening and hazardous to an entire family. That being said, asking a device to provide hourly breakdowns of air quality on demand seems a little hypochondriac. It’s nice that the device offers this level of performance, but many users might not need to be so plugged in to what the air is like at home at all times. Either way, there’s some peace of mind to be gained in knowing Aria is looking out.

Smart Home

Kepler gas monitor helps keep homes from exploding

The Premise. Gas leaks are a common, dangerous occurrence in homes. It can be difficult to tell exactly when gas is leaking and often too late to fix the problem. In addition, when it’s known that a gas leak is occurring, it is unclear when the room should simply be aired out, or the house evacuated altogether. Carbon monoxide is another silent killer that can only be detected by technology.

The Product. A home gas connector, Kepler sits on the wall and features a rechargeable battery for maximum utility. It has an alarm for when gas levels reach a high level and the alarm gets louder as levels become dangerous. The product’s look seems a bit inspired by that of the Nest Protect, or perhaps it’s Honeywell thermostat, the Lyric. — gray, white and round with a monochrome display. The alarm beeps and also flashes red. When not in use, the display shows the time. It’s portable and can be transported into any room in the house. Since cooking leads to many gas leaks, Kepler also has a built-in timer to make preparing food safer. Kepler also sends alerts to your smartphone using an accompanying app.

The Pitch. Kepler’s creator talks about the dangers of gas leaks in the video, explaining that he has lost loved ones in such a situation. The rest of the campaign features detailed photographs displaying each of the product’s capabilities. This Chinese product hopes to raise $30,000 CAD during its 30-day Kickstarter campaign.

The Perks. Kepler offers two early bird tiers at $60 and $70 CAD. At a regular price with different color options, Kepler costs $80 CAD with estimated delivery in November 2014. Reward tiers go all the way up to $8,000 CAD.

The Potential. Kepler’s appeal comes from its all-inclusive design. Many gas/carbon monoxide detectors exist, but not all have as many features as Kepler does. The Kidde Gas/Carbon Monoxide Alarm Dector, for example, doesn’t have the kitchen timer, app integration and general portability of the Kepler. In addition, it simply doesn’t look as good. Kepler’s smart and stylish design make it a perfect addition to any home safety system.

Connected Objects Sensors/IoT

A little Birdi whispers life-saving things to your smartphone

The Premise. Everyone has those annoying fire alarms in their home, but many people let their batteries die or unplug them because they continue to beep for no reason. Because their notifications are so annoying, many folks aren’t too diligent about checking their battery levels. Or aren’t too disappointed when they get too low. Plus, even when they’re working, most budget smoke alarms can’t do much to save your home when you’re away.

The Product. The Birdi is a connected multi-use home alarm set to compete directly with the Nest Protect. It connects via WiFi to alert you of smoke, carbon monoxide, and 10 other variables such as humidity and air quality. It sends the user alerts when there are elevated levels of smoke or carbon monoxide, but if it detects sufficient levels of these dangerous elements in the air, it will dial out the fire department. Birdi can even notify you via smartphone when its batteries are low and automatically order replacements (although the standard AAs wouldn’t be too difficult to find at any nearby store.)

The Pitch. The inventors of the Birdi make their case well for a smarter alarm in a two-minute campaign video that features lots of shots of the product and families. They also note that they’re working with PCH International’s Highway1, an accelerator that helps take projects from prototypes to projects and may help increase their chance of success.

The Perks. After selling out the $89 early bird, the Birdi is now offering a $99 Indiegogo special for its flexible funding campaign. Units are due to be delivered in October 2014.

The Potential. The humble smoke alarm is one of the many things around the home that companies are looking to turn into connected products. Obviously, everybody needs one. And many can probably justify even a significant premium for a device that can not only automatically contact the fire department when you’re not home, but do so with no subscription fee. There’s cause to be more skeptical about Birdi’s interesting neighbor-notify feature, though, since that would likely require a very large installed base.