REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- How much do you really know about quality of the air you breathe? Unless it's something you can see or smell, like smokey air or a thick pollen, you probably don't know what you're breathing in. But a new device developed here in the Bay Area is designed to change that.
Depending on where you live, work or travel, it's no secret the air quality around you can range from very good, to very bad.
Now, a Bay Area startup has come up with a system they say will allow you spot the danger and filter it away. "This sensor is the smallest particulate air quality sensor in the world," Wynd co-founder Ray Wu said.
The Redwood City company has developed a tiny wearable pollution tracker that monitors particles in the air and alerts users to heavy concentrations, even sending warnings through a cellphone app. "It's used for people who want clear air wherever they go. It could be because of allergens, because of germs when they travel, or even because of industrial pollution," Wu said.
He said the tracker communicates directly with a portable air filtration device about the size of a water bottle.
Although it's small, engineers said a specialized filter can eliminate large and small particles ranging from pollens to carbon pollution. "It's basically is creating a cone of clean air that's coming outward towards our users," Wynd engineer Eric Munoz said.
The team demonstrated by using incense sticks to fill a glass chamber with smoke, which pushes readings on an air sampler to peak levels.
But after clicking on the purifier, it takes about three minutes to clear the air quality down to normal.
In regular use, they say the device is designed to respond automatically to the level of pollutants detected by the tracker, giving users a kind of personal air safety zone. "And you get this bubble of air, three feet long. So when you're in that zone you're experiencing healthy air," Wu said.
The company is currently taking orders on Kickstarter for about $140, hoping consumers concerned about air quality will be willing to pay to breathe a little easier.
Besides the sensor, the Wynd app currently provides air quality information from some 6,000 stations around the world. They said future updates will include crowd sourced data to help users track air quality patterns in their own neighborhoods.
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Written and produced by Tim Didion.