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TECHNOLOGY

Introduction

The AlerSenseTM Smart Air Quality Sensor for Allergy, Asthma and COPD is designed to detect indoor air quality constituents which may act as ‘triggers’ for people suffering from asthma, allergies and other respiratory allergies. Triggers are contaminants present in the air that could elicit a negative response from individuals who suffer from a range of respiratory ailments. These triggers in a household may include dust, pollen, mold spores, airborne dust mite allergens and chemicals or toxins in the air. Many people with respiratory issues are affected by these pollutants, and may also be unaware of their own specific triggers, making it difficult for them to predict impending issues.

For a glimpse into the future of airborne contaminant sensing, scroll to the bottom.

The AlerSenseTM system continuously monitors the ambient air in your home. This data is transmitted to a cloud based server where it is analyzed and interpreted, allowing for the creation of individualized ‘smart’ alerts which users receive on their smartphones. These alerts are smart due to their personalized nature, combining up to date air quality data, historic user data and previous user feedback through the app. The AlerSenseTM system continuously refines the user alerts – for example, matching current air quality statistics to previously flagged instances of allergic hypersensitivity or general discomfort, essentially helping to warn of the possibility of a repeat issue. The alerts will include links to resources that help to prevent recurrences of bad air quality, and suggestions on how to deal with the possible underlying issues that are causing the air quality contamination. AlerSenseTM uses proprietary algorithms and data in order to continually improve sensing conditions in the home. AlerSenseTM combines proprietary algorithms and user data in order to continually grow and adapt to your specific lifestyle, ensuring a personalized experience.

As the Alersense system becomes smarter, adapting to your personal living space and environmental conditions, the alerts become further refined while helping users to maintain a watchful eye on their living space. Additionally, the system can be customized for each room of a user’s home, and even each family member. By monitoring various points throughout a user’s home, a real time air quality system is running, allowing for the management of airborne pollutants. The smart phone app is developed specifically to allow for this combined monitoring platform, and is designed to provide a simple and accessible user interface to ensure your data is at your fingertips 24/7.

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About the sensor

The system operates through the combination of several on-board sensors. Smart software features, combined with stored historic data and alerts, give users an up to date representation of the quality of their home air.
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Hardware Technical Specifications:

Air Quality Sensors Particulate Matter Sensor – Fine Particles
Particulate Matter Sensor – Coarse Particles
Volatile Organic Compound (Toxins) & Carbon Dioxide Sensor
Environmental Sensors Temperature Sensor
Humidity Sensor
Wireless Connectivity Wi-Fi: 802.11 B/G/N
Data measurement every 60 seconds
Power AC-DC 5V 1.0 amp USB Adapter
Size 130 x 85 x 40mm
Weight 150 grams
In-Unit LED Feedback Green, Red, Orange LED light display indicates levels of contaminants and toxins

Particulate Matter Sensing

Particulate matter (PM or particle pollution) monitoring is a critical feature of air quality control for allergy, asthma and COPD sufferers. Airborne particles include a broad range of common triggers, such as mold, pet dander and dust mite allergens.

Guidelines set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency group’s particles into 2 main categories:

Inhalable coarse particles – typically between 2.5 and 10 micrometers in diameter

Fine particles – particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in size

The AlerSenseTM system uses a robust particulate matter sensor that can differentiate between coarse and fine particles providing a critical input to personalized smart alerts. The differentiation between particles sizes can provide feedback on what could be causing allergic reactions or asthma issues.

Coarse Particles:

Coarse particles encompass a range of pollutants and possible triggers. Molds, for example, reside in the coarse range of particles, and recent studies have not only shown that mold spores are a high risk trigger for asthmatics, but that the presence of molds at a young age (0 – 12 months old) can be a cause for the development of asthma. Dust, ash, large bacteria, and dense oil smoke are some of the other examples of coarse particles.

Coarse particles are small enough to avoid being caught by the cilia (protective hair like structures) in the nasal passages and trachea, bypassing these natural defenses, and entering the lungs. Coarse particles can then cause allergic reactions, or hinder breathing as they can block oxygen from passing into your bloodstream. Coarse particles typically sediment faster than fine particles, and are often stirred up by external interactions.

Fine Particles:

Fine particles cover a range of pollutants, from allergens (pet dander, dust mite allergens etc.), dense smoke, fine dust and some bacterial spores. These pollutants can be of more danger to individuals, as they can be small enough to pass through the lining of the lungs, and pass directly into the bloodstream, in some cases leading to much harsher allergic reactions. Fine particles can remain in the air for extended periods of time as they sediment much slower than the larger coarse particulates. This allows the fine particles to travel over much larger distances, carried by natural or disturbed air currents.

Contaminants – Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) and CO2

The AlerSenseTM VOC (Volatile Organic Chemical) sensor is a high quality sensor designed to measure indoor pollutants and chemical toxins as well as Carbon Dioxide CO2 in the air and is another input to the smart alerts.

VOC’s

VOCs are chemical contaminants which easily evaporate, quickly spreading and becoming suspended in the air, possibly for prolonged periods. Every cleaner, chemical or product that has a distinct smell is releasing these chemicals, and they are ever present in the modern home. But it is a known fact that an overabundance of these chemicals can lead to nausea, unease and discomfort. Monitoring of these levels is therefore advantageous to everyone, but especially for those suffering from respiratory difficulty. Although small, much smaller than particles in the air, these chemicals can also trigger potentially dangerous reactions in individuals.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

The primary source of indoor CO2 is humans. While typical outdoor concentrations are around 400 ppm, indoor concentrations can go up to several thousand ppm. Higher indoor CO2concentrations relative to outdoors are due to low rates of ventilation, which are often driven by the need to reduce energy consumption from weather tight windows and doors. High levels of CO2 can cause drowsiness, headaches and is usually noticed as a stuffy atmosphere in rooms.

Temperature and Humidity

The AlerSenseTM sensor measures temperature and humidity as they also play a key role, especially in maintaining a comfortable and healthy environment. Whereas the Particle and VOC sensors will provide you with detailed information regarding the specifics of physical air constituents, the temperature and humidity sensors will allow for a range of other features.

Humidity

Maintaining a low humidity level can be helpful to people who suffer from asthma and allergies, as both dust mites (which generate dust mite allergens) and molds favor damper environments. Lower humidity has also been shown to lower indoor pollen counts. But the side effect of lowering humidity is that your general comfort may be impacted. Skin and lips may lose valuable moisture, and nasal passageways may become dry and irritated. A healthy balance is necessary, keeping allergens and contaminants at a minimum while maintaining the comfort in your home. This is even more important in geographic areas that on average have very low or very high levels of humidity.

Temperature

Temperature is the most personal of all of the features of indoor air quality. Each individual will prefer a specific temperature range. Bouts of cold air can be a trigger for respiratory issues, especially in asthmatics, and elevated levels (alongside raised humidity levels) can create an increasingly attractive environment for mold to grow. Again, it is all about the optimal balance of comfort and care that will be most beneficial.

The Future

At AlerSense, we continue to innovate in order to bring the highest quality solutions to our customers. Currently, we are testing our next version of AlerSense which will identify and differentiate specific particles so our customers will be able to understand the exact contaminant that is present when they have an issue. Our objective is for AlerSense to track and alert on specific contaminants whether pollen (including distinct types), mold, dust mite waste, animal dander, or other types of particles. We expect to have particle differentiation technology in the near future.

Additionally we are testing our airborne pathogen detector which will detect certain airborne viruses and bacteria. So far the results are very good.

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