How will CubeSensors measure air quality and smell the pizza before you can?

by Alja Isakovic

That’s one very common question we hear. Do we just make the air quality reading up? Of course not. Apart from measuring temperature and humidity, our Cubes will also be equipped with a highly sensitive VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) sensor. Unless you’re an expert in the field, you might be wondering: what are these compounds, in plain English, and what do they have to do with air quality?

CubeSensors can make your home a safer place

Those of us living in crowded cities, are all too familiar with air pollution caused outside by cars, trucks, factories and other common suspects. We like to think of our homes as a safe haven from all that nasty pollution. I hate to break it to you, but we might be wrong. Your indoor air quality might be up to ten times worse than outdoors, and you can thank (among other things) Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) for that.

VOCs are gases emitted from building materials, home and personal care products, even cooking and various hobbies. Even if you don’t smoke, don’t use a wood-burning stove and ventilate your home or office regularly, you might be hosting a variety of VOC emitting materials in your indoor spaces without realizing it. And while baking a fresh loaf of bread will emit pleasant smelling and non harmful VOCs, gases emitted from paints, carpets, cleaning products, copy machines, and other sources might not only small bad, but also cause adverse health effects.

Immediate health effects of VOCs can include eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea. And if all that wasn’t bad enough, repeated exposure to VOCs can also cause damage to hearth, liver, kidney, and central nervous system; even cancer in animals and potentially humans. While a strong smell will probably make it obvious for us to keep the windows open while painting, we can be exposed to VOCs without noticing it. In fact, you can’t always tell your VOCs just by smell.

And this is where CubeSensors step in. By keeping track of the amount of VOCs in the air, the Cubes can let you know if there’s something in your home or office that’s causing high levels of indoor air pollution. Studies have shown that removing the contaminants at the source is way more effective than relying on ventilation to remove air-borne VOCs. With a Cube in each room, you can be sure you’ll know exactly when indoor air pollution has increased. This will give you the opportunity to remove the offending object from your environment before it’s had the chance to expose you to harmful VOCs for a longer period of time.

Below you can see a sample test we’re currently running in different environments. The bedroom averages aren’t looking too good; the levels at the office seem better, but did somebody just bring a pizza in or is it time to take our organic trash out? Note that this is just a little sneak peak into how the Cubes will make your time spent indoors safer and healthier. The look of the app will probably change before the final release and we’ll make sure you also have smart alerts available, not just bare number.

Testing the CubeSensors app: there's something in the bedroom emitting larger amounts of VOCs; the levels at the office seem better, maybe somebody just delivered a pizza?

P.S.: But do keep in mind that the occasional increase in VOCs from baking delicious food or bringing in pizzas at the office is perfectly fine as long as you share it with you friends. Don’t worry about feeding the Cubes though, they run on rechargeable batteries.

Want to know even more about VOCs? We recommend these resources from some very smart people: