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Gadgetry: The Foobot Indoor Air Quality Monitor

Albert Ornelas
By Albert Ornelas
DIGITAL MEDIA SPECIALIST

Launched in 2014 and redesigned in 2017, the Foobot makes constant air quality monitoring possible and frequent adjustments as easy as opening or closing a window or flipping the switch on a filter or fan.

If you are like most people, you spend about 90 percent of your time indoors. For this reason, the quality of the air you breathe indoors—whether at home, at school, or at work—is vitally important to your health.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that indoor air has far more pollutants than outdoor air and says that these pollutants cause a variety of respiratory and other health issues, including asthma.

The number of new cases of asthma has been rising exponentially since the early 1980s, and studies suggest that this asthma epidemic is directly related to the quality of indoor air. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that asthma now ranks as one of the most common chronic conditions in children.

Jacques Touillon, the co-founder and CEO of AirBoxLab, was inspired by his own son’s struggle with pediatric asthma to focus his attention on indoor air quality. Touillon wondered: “How can we fight this invisible enemy?” From this question came the inspiration to create Foobot. His goal was to make invisible indoor pollution a tangible thing.

Because you cannot improve or fix what you cannot see or measure, it is important to be able to monitor the quality of indoor air. The Foobot Indoor Air Quality Monitor, which was launched in 2014 and redesigned in 2017, makes constant monitoring possible and frequent adjustment as easy as opening or closing a window or flipping the switch on a filter or fan.

The Foobot retails for $199.00 at either www.foobot.io or Amazon.com. After you have purchased this device, all you need to do is download the app, which is designed for both Android and iOS smartphones. Once you sync the Foobot and begin receiving data, your screen helps you monitor the air inside your home.

Real-time data are delivered to your phone every five minutes, which conditions Foobot’s sensors over the course of six days to warm up and acclimate to your home. The “warmup” is necessary because, fresh out of the box, these sensors are encased in plastic foil, and it takes up to six days for the device to remove the foil. Once the device is prepared, you can expect accurate readings.

The Foobot tracks particle pollution, a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets that get into the air. It measures the temperature, the chemical pollutants, and the humidity. By viewing the Foobot or its app, you can “see” the indoor pollution that may be damaging your health. The Foobot app provides you with both instant readings and charts of pollutants over time. It uses the color and the volume of its glow to let you identify pollution sources and patterns easily.

If all this is starting to sound a bit too complicated, the Foobot is compatible with a suite of home automation smart devices, including the Warmup, Hive, Netatmo, and the Nest from Schneider Electric. You can use one of these smart thermostats to connect the Foobot to your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system and control airflow renewal based on real-time pollution measurements so that you can relax and, quite literally, breathe easier.

After purchasing the Foobot, you can expect it to improve over time. With an internet connection, the software will receive updates. Data are securely encrypted and stored on the Cloud from the first day the device is turned on. Thus, you can retrieve the data remotely, and the information is available even if the service of the sensors is temporarily interrupted.

In the end, Foobot is about clean air quality because families need answers to questions like, “Is my detergent making my air less healthy?” or “Do I need to open the window right now?” The Foobot has been designed to detect air quality trends, and it lets you know whether things are getting better or worse, thereby allowing you to make necessary adjustments quickly and putting you in control of the air you breathe.

For more information about the Foobot Indoor Air Quality Monitor—including videos, a blog, and stats—visit www.foobot.io.