If you live in a city, the air you breathe probably isn't doing you any favors. Most American urban areas maintain an Air Quality Index (AQI) score of under 100, meaning low-to-moderate risk of airborne pollutants. But prolonged exposure even to this decently clean air is still linked to long-term health problems. If you live in an industrial center like Beijing or New Delhi, the risk is far worse.
A new Kickstarter project, which has been gaining support for a few weeks now, might have a solution. The device, called Wynd, is a small cylinder that looks a lot like Amazon Echo -- only it sucks in particulate matter and expels 8 liters of purified air per second, creating a personal clean-breathing bubble for the user. Although it will sell for $189 (about £146, AU$252) and ship worldwide when we hit the expected release date in November, Wynd is currently available for preorder on Kickstarter for $139 (about £108, AU$186).
Besides air purification, Wynd has some tricks up its sleeve. First off, a detachable sensor on the bottom of the device can moonlight as a standalone wearable, constantly assessing the air you breathe. You can purchase this wearable sensor by itself for $69 (about £53, AU$92), but the developers are clear that the real magic of Wynd isn't its sensing tech, but its cleaning tech.
Wynd was assembled by engineers with backgrounds in jet turbine design, and it shows. The form of the device is elegant, and its function impressive. Air is sucked into the sides of the cylinder, and blown out the top to create a sort of bubble of clean air. The fan is designed to keep the clean air from dissipating. Of course, we'll have to wait and find out how well it actually works -- but the idea is still cool.
Although the device is easily branded as an individualized air purifier, Wynd has the possibility of doing much more. The Bluetooth-connected app includes software that tells you about the air Wynd cleans, like its AQI and the size of its particulate matter. According to Wynd's developers, this data could be a valuable crowdsourcing tool for the future, allowing users to see which public spaces are cleaner and which more polluted. Plus, by tracking the size of the particles, Wynd should be able to code the data on a basic level, indicating more and less dangerous types of pollution (such as finer material resulting from combustion, versus larger matter like dust).
Every crowdfunding campaign involves risks. For a young startup, bringing a new product to market on a short timeframe can prove far more complicated than anticipated. But Wynd has at least achieved the support of a sizeable community, and prototypes of the device look impressive. Here's hoping Wynd can hit its goals, because this little gadget looks pretty promising.