For the past two weeks, I have been reviewing the Foobot, which is the brainchild of Luxembourg based company, Airboxlab, the CEO Jacques Touillon, who wanted to help his eldest child in his fight against asthma and after looking without success for a device to fight this invisible enemy was determined to improve his son’s health and to develop a solution himself. Foobot was born.
So what does it do, well, it is the most advanced data processing smart monitor in the market and it can ‘smell’ things in your house that you would not usually consider. From a glance you can tell easily tell the quality of the air in the room, the device changes its colour lighting according to air pollution measured. A blue light means that your indoor air quality is good. The higher the orange light, worse is your indoor air quality is.
Foobot uses internal sensors to check for pollution in the form of chemicals and particulate matter, which are up to five times more common indoors as a result of confinement and alerts you via its companion app and the LEDs on the device itself. The device is sensitive to:
• 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 let mould and dust mites grow.
• Temperature – Mostly for comfort, but still important to optimise.
Setting up the Foobot was very easy, once it was out of the box it broadcasts its own Wi-Fi SSID where you use the Foobot app to connect to it as part of the setup. You also need to set up an account or log in to your Foobot account. Our particular Foobot went through 3 firmware update cycles before it started the analysing process. If you own Alexa or NEST, then you can connect the unit up to maximise the output from the Foobot into the rest of your smart home.
The Foobot takes 6 days to perform a full analysis of its new home in your house before it can start to give you accurate results. The different colours can be quite fascinating and quite frightening, especially when it goes orange. To fix the lower scores may be as simple as opening the windows, but the Foobot will give you notifications and feedback on how to make the air cleaner and fresher. More Foobots you get around your home can you give you fuller results. In my home, I added the Foobot skill to my Alexa and she can give me summary updates from the Foobot unit.
Clean air is even more critical for people suffering or recovering from health issues. At hospitals, well-circulated air can minimise the spread of airborne diseases. Since children are particularly susceptible to asthma, clean air at schools is perhaps more important than at home given their high occupancies. In the UK, around 5.4 million people suffer from asthma that pollution can exacerbate. For those affected, air pollution reduces life expectancy by an average of over eleven years. This is nearly 5% of all annual UK deaths but amazingly, there is very little awareness of the problem, making air pollution an invisible public health crisis that affects much of the UK.
It has been an interesting experiment using the Foobot and it has certainly got me thinking of the air intake for my whole family. As I continue to build my smart-er home and hopefully integrate into a Google Nest – then we might see further benefits. For the time being, we can monitor for bad things in the air and benefit for the health good bits.