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BW Businessworld

Gadgets & Gizmos: Clear The Air

A Wi-Fi connected air purifier makes its way from Consumer Electronics Show to India — just in time for asthma season

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Our national capital has, as we all know, attained the dubious distinction of being the most polluted city in the world. On top of that, asthma season has just kicked in, making things that much worse for the allergy-prone.

Right on cue, companies selling air purifiers are bringing their wares to the market. Among them is the Swedish company Blueair, which has brought its Sense+ air purifier into India. You can order it from the website, where the where-to-buy will put you in touch with retail outlets and dealers. But wait. The machine costs Rs 45,000. Why? Well, it's different from other air purifiers in that it is Wi-Fi connected and IOT-ready...

The top surface of the Sense+ is black glass. When you wave your hand over it, without even having to touch it, the machine switches on. A second wave changes the airflow level. And another changes it once again. A final wave will switch it off. A blue set of concentric circles on the glass indicate the level and then go off so the light doesn't draw the eye at night.

As if that weren't fancy enough, a blue Wi-Fi symbol and circle also light up on the glass surface. That's when you need to download the Blueair Friend app on your phone and let it guide you through the simple steps to connect the machine on to the network and to the phone.

And why, you might ask, do we need a Wi-Fi connected air purifier and what does it have to do with the phone. You can use the phone as a remote, controlling the purifier through that, even from the next room. You can also set times to switch it on or off. You can check the state of the air in the city from within the app. But yes, what's missing is an indicator of the air quality in the room. For that, you need another Blueair product, the Aware. Except that costs Rs 20,000.
Now, the triad of your phone, the Sense+ and the Aware, you have information on several parameters of air quality, humidity, etc., in the room. From here, it's but a short step to setting recipes for when to switch on the purifier.

Blueair recommends you have the Sense+ on all the time because well, the air is bad all the time. You would need to change the filters every six months and a service person will come along when you see that a little red light comes up on the purifier and you call for support. But, the two hepa filters that work with the purifier cost Rs 5,000 together —or so I'm told. So the cost of ownership is mounting. Blueair doesn't expect that any other service will really be needed, beyond the change of filters and you can keep it on at one of the three levels of air flow at all times. The highest level is, in fact, quite noisy and difficult to ignore. After a quick blast of usage, one can drop to a mid-level and finally a silent level which is the best for night use.

Blueair is particularly proud of how the Sense+ looks because after all, how much can you do to beautify a rectangular box. As it is though, it comes in six colours and the grill has an interesting mesh grill to improve air flow while looking good. On the back there's a grip to pick up the machine and move it to another room. But the edges of the grip are quite sharp and it's a bit difficult also because it's a bit heavy.