For good reason, much of the activism and media attention about the issues caused by environmental damage has focussed on air quality outside the home. Health problems created and aggravated by external air pollution is an issue high on the agenda of many, but what about the quality of air in our homes and the pollutants that can affect our wellbeing behind closed doors?
According to the World Health Organisation, 3.8 million people around the world die each year from illnesses associated with household pollution. 43% of these deaths are from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) due to indoor exposure to smoke, which generally contains a range of health-damaging pollutants, such as fine particles and carbon monoxide.
Over 1 million people around the world die every year from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) due to indoor exposure to smoke. This is a result of inhaling a range of health-damaging pollutants, such as fine particles and carbon monoxide.
These pollutants are particularly dangerous for children who spend a large amount of time at home. This can be twice as dangerous for children with pneumonia. A major concern is that these pollutants are almost undetectable by human senses.
Introducing our VOC Planter
Researching the above information is what has lead us to conceive the idea for a VOC Planter. LUMA-iD have a rich history in producing products that have a positive and tangible impact on the people around the world, and we believe our concept could be used to make a difference to millions of households.
Our idea is combine nature with technology that can fit into any home aesthetically while also helping to improve quality of life. The basic design features a real-life (or fake alternative for those who suffer from allergies) plant along with two high-quality sensors to measure two types of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (PM2.5 and carbon monoxide), producing a visual representation of air quality with a 360 degree LED panel wrapped around the entirety of the device.
Anyone in the home will be able to connect to the device via an app on their phones. This will provide bespoke recommendations on how to improve air quality inside their home. The app also offers current and historical stats that will show the ongoing levels of VOCs within the property. The aim is to also include connectivity to devices likes Google Home and Amazon Echo and other home smart devices, creating a domestic network that enhances health and wellbeing.
While there are similar devices currently available on the market, we believe they lack the aesthetic appeal required for modern homes. The inclusion of the plant design serves as a constant reminder of the purpose of the app so it doesn’t just become another smart device gathering dust in the corner. In turn it will raise environmental awareness and improve the lifestyle of everyone living at home.
Additional sensors will be required in the home to optimise results and to ensure accuracy of data. Key to this will also be the positioning of the sensors in terms of height. Early stage testing indicates this to be around the 2 metre mark, although this may vary from room to room depending on the dimensions of the space the sensor is being used in.
There are no shortage of high quality sensors available on the market right now, so integration with the design is relatively straightforward. Initial results will be displayed on a wraparound LED display that will alert users (red for poor quality air and green for good), working in tandem with the suggestions sent to their phones via the app on how to improve the air quality.
Software updates will be facilitated via the cloud, making it easy to solve bugs/glitches that need to be addressed, while also keeping users locked into new developments and enhanced versions of the technology.
Considerations also have to be made regarding users who are colour blind and unable to read the LED light display, or anyone with poor vision. Other questions that need to be addressed include the visibility of the display on a bright day, and how often the LED status will be illuminated when in use via battery power.
Portability of the VOC Planter will allow users to bring the device into separate rooms to get a wider perspective of air quality around the home. This may mean that monitoring and the LED status is not always visible to prevent drainage, although this will depend on the battery type, cost and size.