ActiveBuildings, a Mumbai-based startup has successfully developed RESET-certified Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) monitoring sensors and a low-cost affordable air filtration device inspired by Corsi-Rosenthal boxes. ActiveBuildings has deployed over 1000+ sensors and air cleaners across India and provided affordable low-cost air quality testing to over 6 million sq. ft of real estate in India and the Middle East. In addition, the company has donated over 120+ low-cost air cleaners to local schools and healthcare spaces as a part of a joint campaign with a community of aerosol scientists and engineers. During an interaction with Nitisha; Abhinav Gupta, CEO and Founder, ActiveBuildings elaborates, the company’s focus has always been on making clean air accessible to all with cost-effective and data-accurate technology and products that are made in India.
Kindly explain ActiveBuildings and its unique offerings.
ActiveBuildings is a Mumbai-based startup that is focusing its efforts in the indoor air quality sector. ActiveBuildings has been able to develop its own globally accredited air quality sensors, adhering to the RESET standard being 1 of only 25 devices to be certified worldwide. ActiveBuildings has been able to collect 840 million data points on Indoor Air Quality pan-India through these Air Monitoring Sensors, which are plug-n-play in nature and contain a 4G-enabled sim card to support the exchange of real-time data. These devices can monitor 7-15 parameters depending upon the requirements of the client.
Without understanding the composition of air, it is irresponsible to apply generic solutions to homes. For instance, a home facing high level of carbon dioxide due to a lack of ventilation cannot benefit from installing an air purifier. To generate awareness about the importance of understanding indoor air quality, ActiveBuildings stresses on Air Quality Evaluations to truly understand the pollutants in the indoor space. Based on the problems faced by the home occupants and the data collected by the Air Sensors, suitable solutions are proposed to each customer.
In B2B clients, the needs are different from homes. Pharmaceutical or medical storage facilities are more focused on monitoring and maintaining the humidity and temperature of the space. Restaurants and commercial kitchens are concerned with moisture or mould that can affect food quality. Office spaces are usually closed environments and see high levels of Carbon Dioxide along with gases and fine particles from office equipment, paints, room fresheners and more. Increased concentration of CO2 in such closed spaces can affect productivity by inducing headaches, nausea or physical discomfort. ActiveBuildings offers need-based solutions for each problem, such as air cleaners, ventilation management, UV treatment for air and of course, air quality management.
How do you define ActiveBuildings from other IoT companies?
The term ‘Internet of Things’ or IoT describes objects with sensors, software, processing ability or other technology that connects over the internet and exchanges data. IoT-based environmental monitoring and clean technology can support the detection of toxic substances, chemical spills, harmful pollutants and more, enabling governments and industries to clean and protect our air, soil, and water. Perhaps the most encouraging development in IoT technology is the use of sensors for individual and household purposes, due to their increasing affordability and accessibility.
While most other companies emphasise on the retail aspect of Air sensors, ActiveBuildings studies the data from customers to find more efficient and cost-effective solutions to improve indoor air quality. During several years of research and analyses, ActiveBuildings’ focus has always been on making clean air accessible to all with cost-effective and data-accurate technology and products that are made in India.
How air quality monitoring has evolved over the decades.
The first air monitors are believed to have been invented to detect Carbon Monoxide in mines in the 1930s, in the form of tubes, that were eventually used to detect 100s of gases for medical and military purposes.
The concept of Air Monitoring was limited to scientific or governmental use only, until a few years ago when crowd-funding and open-source facilities helped independent projects play with the possibility of real-time data monitoring with the help of the internet to improve air quality. Later, development in technology and research made the concept of air monitors accessible, handy and affordable.
Particularly post-Covid, the rise in the demand of air monitoring and air cleaning services has highlighted the growing awareness for clean and healthy air not only for industries but also for individuals.
How did IoT help in monitoring air pollution and preventing the spread of viruses like COVID?
While PM10 includes dust, mould, pollen, household combustion and especially cooking—stovetop frying, PM2.5 particles are tinier and more dangerous, roughly the size of an E. coli bacterium or smaller, scientists have also expressed that CO2 levels above 800 ppm could potentially indicate that the concentration of any COVID aerosols. (Source: Scientific American)
In a time when several researches have proved the existence of harmful airborne particles in our homes, air monitors have adopted the role of a protector.
Air monitoring based on IoT has 4 essential components – to monitor the environment through sensors and deliver to information systems, measure the data in quantitative numbers, catalogue data using cloud or data centre storage and provide insights after analysis of data to help take the necessary actions.
ActiveBuildings’ 4G-enabled Air Quality monitors allow for real-time data accumulation and transmission making way to 24×7 access, quick analysis and derive at need-based solutions.
What does comprehensive air quality monitoring include?
ActiveBuildings believes in the concept of ‘Clean Air For All’. The goal is to make indoor air healthy for homes, offices and even communities that do not have the resources or information to solve the problem of poor air quality on their own.
ActiveBuildings’ Air monitoring scales have been designed keeping in mind the most common pollutants found in Indian households and office spaces. PM2.5, PM10, CO2 and humidity cause damage not only to the health of the occupants but also to the structure of the homes, furniture, furnishings and even electronics.
Air sensors are the first step to improving air quality. Every other solution follows only after the data collected by the sensors points out the root of the problem. Be it installing an air cleaner, a dehumidifier or making provisions for ventilation, the process starts with air monitoring.
Kindly explain agents affecting Indoor Air Quality and how does IoT help in that?
Indoor Air Pollution is largely affected by lifestyle choices, household activities, number of occupants, design of the building and outdoor pollution levels. Everyday activities like incense burning, use of scented candles, indoor cigarette smoking, even fumes from cooking activities and combustion gases from the stove add fine particles into our air. Also, common household products like aerosol sprays, cleaning products with chemicals, paint fumes, solvents and more release Volatile Organic Compounds that are unsafe to inhale. Number of occupants affects the Carbon Dioxide levels of the space, especially in case of low ventilation. Whether the design of the building allows the circulation of fresh air into the space is also an important aspect. Besides these, natural pollutants like dust, bacteria, spores and mildew are also commonly found in Indian homes.
IoT technology uses air sensors to detect pollutants and collects sufficient real-time data within a few hours to point out foreign agents in the indoor air. This data specifies which pollutants are affecting the air quality, and therefore helps narrow down the causes and devise need-based solutions, accordingly. ActiveBuildings’ Air Sensor can read the PM2.5, PM10, CO2 and humidity levels of an average-sized room within 30 minutes, along with the temperature indoors.
How is ActiveBuildings using IoT to help its clients?
ActiveBuildings does not endorse one single solution to all air quality issues. The air we breathe consists of a variety of gases and particles, some of which are important for us, some harmless and others are dangerous pollutants. The quantity of these vary from space to space depending upon a variety of factors, which is why air monitoring is essential to improving air quality.
Although technology makes the product handy, IoT plays the biggest role in collecting, transmitting and analysing the data. This is the reason ActiveBuildings’Air Evaluation services require zero-effort from the customer. Once an indoor air quality test is scheduled for a business or a home, the sensors are deployed by ActiveBuildings’ team for the time period suitable for the area of the space. Sensors assess the composition of the air present in the room, the data is analysed and a detailed report of the same is presented to the clients, similar to a blood test report showing ideal/safe levels and the real-time levels of pollutants in the air, along with proposed solutions specifically suited to the needs of the customer.
Kindly explain your future plans and upcoming product launch.
ActiveBuildings continues to develop and improve the accuracy of its sensors. New parameters are also being researched upon so that more pollutants present in the air can be tested such as harmful gases, and finer pollutants, while maintaining the cost-efficiency of the sensors. Aesthetic remodelling is also being considered to make the sensors more user-friendly as well as pleasant-looking for home interiors. With the implementation of real-time indicators and batteries in their monitoring devices, ActiveBuildings is working towards making air testing and cleaning more easy and accessible for end-users.
ActiveBuildings has been focusing its effort into developing cost-effective air cleaners built specifically to tackle the demands of the Indian environment. ActiveBuildings is dappling into Upper room UVGI systems as a one-time investment, low maintenance alternative for cleaning indoor air. Along with that, ActiveBuildings is carrying out research in order to enter water testing and treatment as a service offered alongside air quality improvement.