Hands on: Atmotube Pro, an iPhone-connected portable air quality alert system

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2019
Atmotube Pro is a wearable, portable air quality monitor that connects to your iPhone, and sends out alerts to bad conditions in real time.

atmotube
Atmotube is wearable, by clipping to a belt loop or possibly to a laptop bag

What is it

We're aware of bad air quality through odor or pollen, but we don't really know much more than that until we start having breathing problems. Atmotube PRO changes that a little by being an early warning system. It detects volatile organic compounds (VOC), plus particulate matter down to 1, 2.5, and 10 micrometers when detecting air pollutants. For general comfort and other information, it detects temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure, coupled with an altimeter.

atmotube pro
Atmotube warms up the sensor and detects air quality

Why would you want this

Most people think about VOCs when doing something like painting a room, or being around a car exhaust. The problem is that they're much more prevalent than you might think -- Office equipment, cleaning supplies, furniture, can all give off VOCs.

And it's not just VOCs. Particulate matter, little tiny particles of dust, soot, smoke, are in the air all the time. These pollutants change with the seasons throughout the year. People who burn woodburning fireplaces are more likely to experience soot and smoke in the winter, for example. Inhaling particulate matter has short term effects for people who have Asthma, and also long term effects like heat attacks and lung cancer.

Using Atmotube Pro

Atmotube has a carabiner mount, a button, a mesh grille for airflow to the sensor, and and RGB LED that indicates air pollution status. Green is good, red is severely polluted, with a range of aqua, yellow and orange in-between.

Setting up Atmotube was pretty easy. Opening the app launches a search for devices in range, or allows you to use a demo device to experience the app a little. It's a good idea to agree to notifications, so that you can get lock screen notifications for air quality alerts. The sensor warms up, and then you get a measurement. That's about it, until something happens.

atmotube
You can adjust the threshold for warnings.


There are actually three sensors inside, a laser-based PM sensor, a MEMS tVOC sensor, and the sensor for temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. A tiny fan pulls air across the sensors. Data is stored internally for 5 days, as well as being sent to the phone. The fan is only on for readings.

atmotube
lock screen notifications are really useful.


With a user's permission, Atmotube stores anonymous, aggregated environmental data in the cloud to update and creates a global air quality map that's free to use.

In use

Atmotube charges via USB-C, and is about the size of a stack of business cards, 3.3" x 1.9" x 0.8". It felt a bit odd wearing it on our belt loop, but clipping to a backpack would be pretty convenient. Atmotube PRO is available for pre-order for $149 USD from atmotube.com.

Charge, and battery life, depends on how you set sensing -- always on (1 day of battery life), on for 5 min (4 days), 10 min (8 days), or 15 min (12 days). The fan runs for 1 minute of the 10 minutes, so it's really only sensing for one minute out of every ten, which is how it gets more battery life than being always on.

The real issue is convenience -- Atmotube PRO is a little large to wear every day. It's convenient to look at the LED and see what the status is, but we noticed we started being a little more concerned when quality dropped to 68 or 70 - should we leave? Should we relocate? Open windows? It was hard to know what the right action to take was.

And that's really the issue with this, or any other portable air quality monitoring kit. Know what you're looking for, and why, before you get into any atmospheric monitor. Do alter your behavior and your plans based on what you see, but it's easy to over-react, so temper what you see with appropriate action -- and this we leave as an exercise for the reader.

Atmotube Pro is on pre-order for $149. Full retail will be $189.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member
    What if somebody lives in certain cities in Cali? It seems like the alerts would be going off nonstop, as certain Cali cities top the worst polluted cities list in various categories. How is this device going to help them?

    I guess the best solution is to just pack up and move.
  • Reply 2 of 13
    minicoffeeminicoffee Posts: 53member
    And, in attempting to revoke California's stringent auto-emissions rule, Trump is attempting to make California's air even dirtier, but he'll probably fail, as in most things.
  • Reply 3 of 13
    kenaustuskenaustus Posts: 915member
    The other potential risk for many people is the hair and dandruff from dogs and cats,  My granddaughter is exceptionally sensitive and starts having breathing problems if there is a dog or car in a store the size of The Gap.  Getting out fast is often the critical need.  If they can develop a way of identifying animal hair and (especially) dandruff they are in line to make a fortune.  I'll stand in line for that one.
  • Reply 4 of 13
    macmarcusmacmarcus Posts: 83member
    Looks like it would be very very inaccurate if worn like that. Gimmicky at best. Don't fart as that would throw it way off.
    edited May 2019
  • Reply 5 of 13
    kimberlykimberly Posts: 384member
    macmarcus said:
    Looks like it would be very very inaccurate if worn like that. Gimmicky at best. Don't fart as that would through it way off.
    Your post is missing facts that would support your comments about inaccuracy .. and also learn how to spell as well as develop a sense of humour that isn't in the toilet.
  • Reply 6 of 13
    macmarcusmacmarcus Posts: 83member
    kimberly said:
    macmarcus said:
    Looks like it would be very very inaccurate if worn like that. Gimmicky at best. Don't fart as that would throw it way off.
    Your post is missing facts that would support your comments about inaccuracy .. and also learn how to spell as well as develop a sense of humour that isn't in the toilet.
    You seriously think this thing can take accurate air samples while clipped on a person. One's clothes give off chemicals from the use of detergents, dryer sheets alone and dry cleaning. This device does not give the impression that it would provide a scientific sampling whatsoever. I've had an office space evaluated for air quality before - and this ain't what they used.
    edited May 2019
  • Reply 7 of 13
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor
    macmarcus said:
    kimberly said:
    macmarcus said:
    Looks like it would be very very inaccurate if worn like that. Gimmicky at best. Don't fart as that would throw it way off.
    Your post is missing facts that would support your comments about inaccuracy .. and also learn how to spell as well as develop a sense of humour that isn't in the toilet.
    You seriously think this thing can take accurate air samples while clipped on a person. One's clothes give off chemicals from the use of detergents, dryer sheets alone and dry cleaning. This device does not give the impression that it would provide a scientific sampling whatsoever. I've had an office space evaluated for air quality before - and this ain't what they used honeybun.
    Could you be any less condescending?

    When they evaluated your office, they didn't use $149-$189 dollar equipment. It also wasn't battery powered. It may also have been able to detect particulates smaller than 1 micron. 

    The fan pulls air through the front face, so clothing scents are on the exhaust side and not measured. This device gives you more information than you had without it, and it's good for that. Whether or not you think you need it is a different question. 
  • Reply 8 of 13
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor
    apple ][ said:
    What if somebody lives in certain cities in Cali? It seems like the alerts would be going off nonstop, as certain Cali cities top the worst polluted cities list in various categories. How is this device going to help them?

    I guess the best solution is to just pack up and move.

  • Reply 9 of 13
    cndgoosecndgoose Posts: 16member
    vmarks said:
    apple ][ said:
    What if somebody lives in certain cities in Cali? It seems like the alerts would be going off nonstop, as certain Cali cities top the worst polluted cities list in various categories. How is this device going to help them?

    I guess the best solution is to just pack up and move.

    Does it measure radon? 
  • Reply 10 of 13
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor
    apple ][ said:
    What if somebody lives in certain cities in Cali? It seems like the alerts would be going off nonstop, as certain Cali cities top the worst polluted cities list in various categories. How is this device going to help them?

    I guess the best solution is to just pack up and move.
    I mean, if certain cities are polluted enough that it would be going off non-stop, you might want to move for your health anyway? I know that can be difficult, there are all sorts of factors in where people are able to live / afford / work.
    edited May 2019
  • Reply 11 of 13
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 760editor

    cndgoose said:
    vmarks said:
    apple ][ said:
    What if somebody lives in certain cities in Cali? It seems like the alerts would be going off nonstop, as certain Cali cities top the worst polluted cities list in various categories. How is this device going to help them?

    I guess the best solution is to just pack up and move.

    Does it measure radon? 
    To the best of my knowledge, it does not.

    Radon is a serious problem, and while I had thought of it as a gas problem radiating from soil under buildings, it is also a water problem. I think a specialized detection product would be appropriate.
  • Reply 12 of 13
    ralphieralphie Posts: 68member
    cndgoose said:
    vmarks said:
    apple ][ said:
    What if somebody lives in certain cities in Cali? It seems like the alerts would be going off nonstop, as certain Cali cities top the worst polluted cities list in various categories. How is this device going to help them?

    I guess the best solution is to just pack up and move.

    Does it measure radon? 
    Not listed as such, so NO. I did buy a dedicated radon measuring device.  Good investment, had my house remediated shortly after seeing my readings.
  • Reply 13 of 13
    I live on the East coast of Australia, and, until this year, had excellent air. No longer, the blazes supercharged by Climate Change mean our cities are being regularly swathed in a smoke haze and an AQI that goes off the charts with PM2.5. Masks have become advisable. And this won't be the only time, we think that this could be a yearly occurence as Australia becomes hotter and drier. 
    Interest in AQI is burgeoning as the seriousness of bad air has been explained by our health authorities.
    I have just ordered the Atmotube Pro because it is one of the few portable air monitors available that will check and log by location at a reasonable price.
    It is not just a defensive measure.  It is to show evidence to businesses and government public spaces that their excellent cooling and heating aircon does not necessarily deal with contaminants. It only takes a moment to detach from your belt or bag and set up in a good spot to check the a facility's air. In doing so I can contribute not just to my own health but to the community as a whole and drive home to our climate denialist Australian government that they are playing with the lives of our citizens.
    Your are looking at the future. Consider how you can work to preventing or at least ameliorating what will be your lot too very soon..

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