Despite Beijing announcing its first ever red alert for air pollution, smog is not a new phenomenon for the city’s residents. Many new devices can be found on the market today to bring the latest pollution forecasts to mobile phones, even allowing residents to monitor air quality in their own homes.
Origins, a Beijing-based startup, has seen its Laser Egg device flying off the shelves since the Beijing government implemented its first red alert on air pollution. The egg-shaped portable device, costing around 50 euros, measures air pollution on a real-time basis. A built-in laser beam picks up particles in the air, presenting a calculation of the fine particulate matter per cubic metre. The manufacturer claims it can detect particles as small as 0.3 microns in diameter.
“Air pollution is completely invisible,” says Liam Bates, founder of Origins. “In your house, you have no idea if it’s very healthy or hazardous. You really can’t tell. So we wanted to create a device which would be really easy to use, really affordable, and tells you are your air purifiers working? Are you breathing healthy air?”
Air Visual is another company born out of the air quality crisis. It was founded by two Frenchmen, and longtime Beijing residents. Air Visual has a smart phone application that uses air quality data from monitoring stations across Beijing. When that information is combined with the weather forecast, a prediction is made on how the quality of the air will evolve over the next few days.
“What we can see is the weather really does have a big impact on the air quality,” explains Yann Boquiod, co-founder of Air Visual. “So emissions are kind of constant, but it is really about how the weather is going to be, to blow away the air pollution. So I think that’s something that is very important, because we can’t change the weather but we can change the emissions. “
To be informed is important, but let’s also hope for a future with less air pollution across China.