Portable air quality and CO2 monitor aims to let us 'see' invisible threats in the air

The best feature of the AirVisual Node, described as "the most precise consumer air quality monitor on the market," might have nothing to do with its sensors.

How do you track the invisible? How do you know if the CO2 level in your home gets dangerously high, or if there are hazardous levels of particulate matter in the air where you're sleeping?

It's one thing to be able to see dirt, say on your dishes or clothes or furniture, and to then do something about it, such as cleaning it. But it's another thing entirely to try to do the same with influences which are basically invisible to us, and that's what the emerging sector of personal environmental monitors and air quality sensors and apps aims to help us do, by quantifying and visualizing the potentially toxic elements in the air we breathe.

The latest entry into the personal air quality monitoring space is AirVisual's new Node device, which, instead of being meant to be tucked out of sight somewhere, is designed to be looked at to convey the current quality of air to those nearby. Of course, this also comes with an app for viewing data and getting alerts, but having an actual display on the device might be one of this gadget's breakout features, as it enables everyone in the home (or office) to be able to see the readings, not just the person with the app on their phone. With the Node, checking the air quality could be as simple as a quick glance at the device, and doesn't require picking up the phone and opening up an app, which seems to make this a much more accessible device.

The Node, which is currently in a crowdfunding phase with a successful Indiegogo campaign, integrates real-time particulate matter (PM) and CO2 readings, along with temperature and humidity, and displays those readings on a 5" LED screen, along with outdoor air quality data from local official sensors. The Node also displays a three day air quality forecast, allowing users to consider that information when planning their upcoming activities.

The device also connects to a larger network of monitors, numbering some 8000 at the moment, which contribute data to AirVisual's global air quality map, as well as enabling the company's "deep machine learning technology" to analyze the data in order to both track the sources of pollution as well as to see trends and improve the forecasting of air quality.

Here's the video pitch:

Devices such as this seem like they really ought to be as standard as a temperature display is on a thermostat, especially in settings like a gym or an office or a school, and the Node, which is just $149 through the Indiegogo campaign, seems like it would be a great option.

"We have always accepted the quality of air around us without question, even though 1 out of 3 Americans are at risk of suffering from air pollution’s health effects. This is partly because we’ve lacked the tools to control what we breathe--until now. With the AirVisual Node, we can instantly see invisible threats around us, which is a critical first step to breathing healthier air." - Kelsey Duska, AirVisual Project Lead

As a parent, I know that when engaging and involving my kids in environmental/health/activism activities, it's always so much more potent when it directly impacts them, and because the Node has an easily accessible display, it seems like it could be fitting for that. I have a Netatmo monitor for my home, and I refer to the data fairly often, but because the actual device is basically a grey metallic tube sitting on a shelf, with all of the information only accessible via my phone or the web interface, it's not something that my kids ever pay attention to. However, I'd bet dollars to donuts that if it had a visual interface like this, they'd probably check it multiple times per day, and act on that information (i.e. open the windows if CO2 levels are high, or close them if outside air quality is low).

Learn more at Indiegogo or AirVisual.

Tags: Air Pollution | Air Quality | Gadgets


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