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AirBoxLab Wants To Tell You What’s In The Air You’re Breathing – But Do We Even Want To Know?

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Indiegogo project AirBoxLab, based out of Paris, France, is hoping to build the “Nest for air quality” with its sensor device that monitors and reports on how much VOC, CO2, CO, and particulate matter is circulating in the air you breathe every day. The sensors would also report on temperature and relative humidity, but the focus would be on keeping you up to date on your indoor air quality.

The aim of informing you about all the potentially dangerous gases you’re inhaling (including frightening sounding stuff like formaldehyde, benzene, ethylene glycol and acetone) is to make it possible for you to take steps to improve your local air quality, with the upside of providing improved long-term health benefits.

The AirBoxLab is a cylindrical, sensor-laden device, that connects to your smartphone or tablet and provides an intelligent readout of air quality over time via charts and graphs. The information gathered is used to inform patter recognition and machine learning algorithms to send you push notifications designed to help you optimize air cycling in specific rooms, find and eliminate pollution sources, and even prompt changes in behaviour to lessen the impact of general living on indoor air quality.

VideoPic9Air quality monitoring is not a new thing; it’s built into the Withings Smart Body Analyzer scale, for instance. But many of the devices already out there simply offer a basic readout of CO2 in the air around you, and its hourly progress. What AirBoxLab wants to do is make that information something actionable, and to provide a more complete picture of all the potential measures of air quality, not just CO2. In that regard, it is very much like Nest, since it’s intended to facilitate change, not just passively gather and record data.

Another similar project called the Air Quality Egg took to Kickstarter to fund its own project, and raised $144,592, well above its original goal. The aim of that project was to build a crowdsourced community database of air quality knowledge, and the AirBoxLab also wants to collect data from all its users to make a community resource. The projects share a lot of similarities, but AirBoxLab looks more squarely aimed at the general consumer market, whereas the Egg would probably appeal more to DIY-ers and tech enthusiasts.

AirBoxLab is seeking 10,000€ (around $13,000 USD), and has so far raised just over half its goal. Pre-order pledges start at the 129€ level, which is around $168 U.S., and a discount of 40€ from the anticipated retail price. The startup is targeting a September 2013 release for the AirBoxLab, and apps on iOS and Android will be available to help users interact with and view the data gathered by their monitoring gadgets. My only worry is that finding out what’s in the air I’m breathing every day will be more paralyzing than enabling – sure, you can change your behaviour to improve conditions, but only to some extent. We humans however can’t seem to quiet our curiosity, whether or not it helps us sleep better at night.