Just when you thought wearables were dead, Plume Labs is coming up with an interesting wearable device focused on tracking pollution around you. It’s a sort of Fitbit for air quality.
The Flow tracker works both inside and outside and could be particularly useful if you live in a polluted city. It tracks particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide, ozone, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), temperature and humidity. You can clip it to your bag, bike or stroller. It has a tiny leather strap and looks nice.
On the device itself, you can find a touch button and 12 color LEDs to tell you the pollution status of the last 12 hours without having to look at your phone. Behind the scene, the tracker uses Bluetooth Low Energy.
More importantly, Plume Labs is building a community of Flow users. Just like Netatmo has built a community of weather stations, Plume Labs could build live maps of the current pollution in your city if there are enough Flow users out there.
When it comes to the business model, in addition to the device for consumers, the company has an API and can give you air quality forecasts based on past readings, a combination of multiple data points and machine learning. I’ve covered the company’s app in the past if you want to get pollution forecasts on your phone.
The company recently raised $4.5 million from Dr. Laurent Alexandre with part of the money coming from a European Union grant and Bpifrance.
If you live in China or you can feel it in your throat when it’s polluted outside, the Flow could be a useful device. Long term exposure to pollution can be more dangerous than the occasional peaks as well. Now let’s hope that the company is going to sell a bunch of those so that the live map becomes more accurate. Plume Labs hasn’t disclosed price and availability. Pre-orders should start this Spring.