TECH TALK: Foobot Air Quality Monitor

The Foobot glows blue to indicate air quality is good.
The Foobot glows blue to indicate air quality is good.
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Smoke detectors are commonplace today and in recent years carbon monoxide monitors have also found their way into many homes. The Foobot however takes things to the next level.

The Foobot is a clever piece of kit which despite its small size is crammed full of state-of-the-art sensors which can detect potentially harmful things in your home's air supply.

Orange indicates air quality may not be ideal - with tips on how to remedy.

Orange indicates air quality may not be ideal - with tips on how to remedy.

In this age of pollution - it's apparently the fourth highest risk factor for death and the leading environmental risk for disease - it's a handy appliance to have, especially if someone in your family has respiratory problems, such as athsma and other allergies.

So how does it work? Foobot is very easy to set up. It comes out of the box, you plug it in and connect to your wifi. You then download the free Apple or Android app, and you're ready to go.

The Foobot immediately starts giving you readings but also advises that it will be up to speed in a few days' time - more to come on that.

LED lights on the Foobot itself give you an indication of how good the air quality is in your home, and on the app the screen changes from blue to orange and back again, depending on how good the air quality is. Blue good, orange, not so good.

Both Foobot and app indicate are blue to show good air quality.

Both Foobot and app indicate are blue to show good air quality.

So what does it detect? The Foobot breaks things down into three key contributors to your home's air ‘health’ - carbon dioxide, volatile compounds and particulate matter.

You can also view the temperature of your home, as well as humidity and outdoor pollution levels in your area are monitored by the Foobot with its link to providers via wifi.

More specifically, the Foobot detects:

PM2.5s - Particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres, 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. This is measured via data from other sensors.

Humidity - Low humidity can cause irritation. Excessive humidity lets mould and dust mites grow.

Temperature - Mostly for comfort, but still important to optimise

And while you're learning how Foobot works, the device itself is learning too. When it encounters a spike in readings, it messages you to ask what may have been happening at the time. Cleaning? Cooking maybe, spraying a particularly fat bluebottle with fly killer?

The more information you can give the Foobot the more it can realise the patterns in your home, and can dispense tips on how to remedy it and benefit your family's long-term health.

For most of us that may mean opening a window or using less volatile chemicals when dusting, but the Foobot is IFTTT compatible meaning you could ally it to an air purifier or thermostat for example.

While it's not an essential piece of equipment it's a handy tool in making the invisible appear visible inside your home.

Foobot is priced between £170 and £179.99 from various stores including Amazon. For more information visit https://foobot.io/

Specifications

This app screen shows the levels of volatile compounds at certain times of the day.

This app screen shows the levels of volatile compounds at certain times of the day.

Measures: Temperature, Humidity, Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Fine Particles, VOCs

Dimensions: 172x71mm

Weight: 475g

Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11n)

Foobot can work with other related equipment.

Foobot can work with other related equipment.