AWAIR 2nd Edition: Be aware of the air in your home

AWAIR 2nd Edition. Photo © 2018, Steven Sande

AWAIR 2nd Edition. Photo © 2018, Steven Sande

It's time to become aware of what you're breathing. That's the impetus behind AWAIR 2nd Edition, a US$199 smart air quality monitor that recently hit the market. With a built-in display that gives an indication of air quality with a glance and an iOS app that provides details and notifications, AWAIR 2nd Edition is the way for anyone to determine how the air in their home is affecting health.

My wife has suffered from asthma for many years, and we often have no idea what will set off an attack. That's why I found the idea of AWAIR 2nd Edition so attractive -- getting constant input on five major factors affecting air quality to make it easier to find out what triggers her asthma. 

Those five factors are:

  1. Temperature (°F / °C)
  2. Humidity (%)
  3. CO2 level (%)
  4. Chemicals (measured in parts per billion)
  5. Fine dust (measured in micrograms/cubic meter)

Temperature readings go between -40° and 257°F (-40 to 125°C), and are accurate to with 0.36°F. Humidity is measured with an accuracy of plus or minus 2 percent, and fine dust measured between 0 and 1000 micrograms/cubic meter. Chemicals -- total volatile organic compounds -- are measured between 0 and 60000 parts per billion, while CO2 measurements are made between 400 and 5000 parts per million and displayed as a percentage.

The device itself is quite attractive. It's a 6.30 x 3.54 x 1.97 inch (160 x 90 x 50 mm) box with a nice wood exterior and a front that is somewhat like a small speaker. In the speaker "grille" are a number of small white LEDs that light up to display a bar chart of the five readings as well as a number between 0 and 100. 100 indicates the best possible air quality, while you'd probably run from your house if you saw a 0 (poorest possible air quality). 

There's also a single color LED that glows green when the air quality is good, yellow when the quality is considered fair, and orange when the air quality is poor. The LEDs are nice, since we have the AWAIR 2nd Edition located in the family room where we spend a lot of time. But it's the iOS app that is much more useful on a daily basis.

The app is used for setup of the device, which requires a 2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi network to operate. The AWAIR also requires power, and uses a provided power adapter and cable. 

Once you're in the app, there's a wealth of information at your fingertips. An overview screen gives you the chance to look at several AWAIR monitors, helpful if you have more than one device located around your home or several homes. 

The "Score" tab shows current readings at a glance with a big composite score listed at the top of the screen in the color that's appropriate (green, yellow, orange), as well as individual readings for all of the measurements. Tips provide a list of ideas to help your air quality. For instance, during one slightly high CO2 reading the app said that we should "Get an English ivy or a Snake plant in your bedroom. It will help remove toxic chemicals as well as reduce CO2 concentration." Another tip detailed how poor air quality can trigger eczema outbreaks -- something I was totally unaware of.

My personal favorite tab in the app is the "Trend" tab, which shows daily or weekly line charts showing how air quality changes during the day. 

There's also an Awair+ tab, which can be used to link the AWAIR to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Sadly, there's no Apple HomeKit compatibility, something I hope AWAIR is able to add soon. Finally, there's a list of notifications that have been sent by the device. Usually we see alerts for dust levels -- not surprising, since the AWAIR device is near a cat litter box that kicks up a lot of dust. It has me thinking about getting a more dust-free cat litter in the future!

While I've only had the AWAIR 2nd Edition for about a week, it already has me thinking about what can be done to further improve the air quality in our home. We have a whole-house electrostatic air cleaner that helps a lot, but little things that affect us -- like cooking fumes and the cat litter box dust -- can be easily remedied with some changes like turning on an exhaust fan during cooking or getting dust-free cat litter.

Conclusion

The AWAIR 2nd Edition smart air quality monitor is a product worthy of consideration by anyone concerned about air quality and health. AWAIR should consider making the product compatible with HomeKit, but the lack of connection with Apple's home automation platform is sadly the norm for many new connected health devices.

Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★★