• Product Type: Air Quality Monitor and Pollutant Tracker | Manufacturer: FoobotPrice: £179 | Where to buy: Amazon

    With a modern design and packed full of technology, the Foobot can provide real-time air quality monitoring straight to your phone.

    What is it?

    Described as a “Good Air Guru” by its inventors, the Foobot will monitor the quality of your indoor or outdoor air by tracking chemical pollutants and particles.

    What does it do?

    Housing an array of sensors, the Foobot can detect small particles (PM2.5) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) and use this data to calculate the CO2 content of the air. A major feature of the Foobot is that it can provide real-time monitoring and reporting of your air quality straight to your phone. Furthermore, the Footbot is equipped with LED lighting to reflect the quality of the air it is detecting. Blue is good, orange means you need to take action!

    How do you set it up?

    Powered by a 1.5 m USB cable, the Foobot set up begins by plugging it into either the wall (plug provided) or a USB port. After downloading the Foobot app, it will guide you through the set-up process and connect your mobile device to your Foobot using your Wi-Fi network. Note of warning, it’ll only work on the 2.4 GHz band and gets confused if you broadcast a 5 GHz band on the same SSID. Our initial set-up of the Foobot worked smoothly, and it began to transmit data to our phones, informing us that our air quality was “good”. Great news! We further tested the device by breathing on it, and sure enough we noted that the device spiked in VOC and CO2 count, as expected. It promptly returned to satisfactory levels shortly afterwards – real-time monitoring is a definite plus point for this device.

    Summary

    Whilst the initial set-up of the device was successful, any power loss from the Foobot resulted in having to go through the connection set-up process again. The difference now being it fails over Wi-Fi and you have to hotspot to the device (all of which is covered in the app) to get it to work again, an irritation if you happen to move it from one place to another. Some of my colleagues were unable to connect to it at all, so for the moment it appears only one device can connect to it.

    Another downside of this device is its price – around £180. Whilst a lab-grade detector would cost significantly more, this is still a large expenditure for a household budget, especially as the Foobot doesn’t actually improve air quality. Whilst the Foobot can control some heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems (via Google Nest) in the US, a powerful feature of the device, this is much less relevant in the UK as our homes typically don’t have HVAC systems.

    Should you buy it?

    In summary, if you’re in the market for an air quality monitor, then the Footbot would be a strong contender, assuming you have the budget for it. With a fashionable design, it provides real-time updates on the air quality in your room and delivers them right to your phone app. It can even provide notifications if it detects a spike in air pollution.

    However, if you’re just concerned about your air quality, then the decision to buy becomes less clear. Without any widespread ventilation or air conditioning systems in UK homes, the Foobot loses some of its draw.

    Future of the Foobot

    With “smart homes” becoming more commonplace, the Foobot could very well position itself as the heart of any modern, automated HVAC system. If the price were to drop a little and the market moves in the direction I expect it to, then I can see the Foobot becoming an integral feature in households.

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