Healthy gadgets: Air quality tool and pre-tricorder

When staying in a house 100m away from a very busy highway where all kids seem to have severe respiratory issues I decided to take another good look at devices that might help avoid ending up in such a situation. I had already taken a look at devices for measuring air quality. The Air Quality Egg is a great open source community-led sensing network for… air quality. It is more focused on outside air quality and DIY. Great in itself, but I made the choice to go for the Alima, which is more consumer oriented device that measures volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and fine particles.

Of course it’s often hard to do something about current living situation, although I am concerned about people who have an in house hearth where you actually smell the burned wood. I’d love to know if my friends and family living in such a situation might not be better of not using their very cozy hearth. Another potential use case is for when scouting new places to live. I’m not sure how much time it takes but even if it’s one hour, I’d be very happy to sit in front of the house and measure.

Many ideas from Star Trek are slowly entering our reality. Most people in developed countries have their own communicator (and most folk in developing countries have fairly easy access to one). Replicators are slowly coming up, it will a be a long shot before “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot” will be a reality but in many cities you can get your own shapes printed easily through 3D hubs without owning your own 3D printer. Next in line is the Tricorder. There is a 10M$ X prize for a device that can do the following:

  • Disease diagnosis.
  • Show ongoing personal health metrics such as heart rate.
  • Monitor ongoing health.
  • Summarize a person’s state of health.
  • Confirm quickly if a person is healthy or not. This function would be similar to the check engine light on a car.

Wello pre tricorderIt looks like it will take some more years before we have a consumer device that can do all this so I’ve looked around for some devices that will be available this year. Thus I stumbled upon Azoi’s Wello and couldn’t resist to order this 199$ device which measures heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, ECG and lung function – data is stored and analyzed on your iPhone or Android phone. Considering the cost of visiting doctors even in social welfare countries in Western Europe it seems a no brainer to buy this device, at least if you have some faith that it will be delivered with promised functionality. Of course it’s mostly not an alternative to visiting, but often you’re in doubt whether you need to visit a doctor. Moreover, having hard data over extended periods that even a general practitioner cannot quickly gather will allow doctors to come up with much better and precise analyses.

Note that it’s pre-order stuff, so I don’t have these things yet but I’ll be happy to write a review later.

P.S. The Wello link I added is a referral link. I would appreciate it if you use this link if you are going to buy the Wello, as it would give me a 10$ reduction on my own purchase.