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Breathe Better: How this Hardware Start-up Promotes Healthy Air

For uHoo, better air means a better life

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BY Pauline Mendoza - 11 Apr 2018

Breathe Better: How this Hardware Start-up Promotes Healthy Air

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

There are many things that we take for granted — the air we breathe is perhaps a perfect example.

But for someone who is prone to allergic reactions due to airborne allergens, every breath counts.

People who suffer from chronic ailments like asthma and allergic rhinitis are hindered by frequent sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, watery eyes, shortness of breath, and other allergic reactions. Air pollutants like particulate matter (e.g. dust, pollen, smoke) and airborne chemicals are the usual culprits.

Entrepreneur Dustin Onghanseng knows this all too well. He founded uHoo, a start-up that provides a device that is as sleek and small as a coffee tumbler, but it can monitor the air quality of any room you put it in.

“We started uHoo when we were students during our MBA program. We had problems in the school building and in the dorms because we’re very sensitive to the air. I have allergic rhinitis and my co-founder, Brian Lin has asthma,” Onghanseng says.

The device comes with an app so users can control the device remotely. Users can also generate the air quality data for specific periods of time, utilize the built-in health diary, and get recommendations on how to improve air quality in a certain room.

“You can immediately see, through the app, if there’s something wrong with the air quality around you. You’ll get alerted with something like ‘Are you feeling stuffy, if you are, you have to open the windows to improve ventilation,’” says Onghanseng.

He adds that this air quality sensor can be connected to any purifier you already have at home, school, or office. Hospitals and laboratories also benefit from its nine air quality sensors — for temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide (CO2), Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC), particulate matter (PM2.5), air pressure, carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Onghanseng says uHoo has the most number of sensors a device of its kind could have in the market.

Providing data for research

In December 2017, uHoo partnered with Ricola to monitor the indoor air quality of selected Ricola offices. Ricola, a pioneer in herb cultivation, is investigating the improvement of indoor air through herbs and plants like Rosemary, Lavender, and Basil — all of which are associated with absorbing harmful chemicals in the air. This is being done with the help of uHoo’s air sensors that provide real-time data on the air quality of different work environments.

This air toxin sensor is suitable for a 50-sqm room, given there are no restrictions on the flow of air like walls or dividers. As an IoT device, it can be connected to smart devices like smart air purifiers, smart lights, and so on.

“If you have smart lights, we can make the lights flicker based on the air quality, or even change its color,” shares Onghanseng.

The Taiwan-manufactured device is available globally to both individual and corporate clients via online orders.

Onghanseng is looking forward to more challenges as they continue to develop the product.

“Our next steps are really a lot on the software side because we have a really good hardware already. We want to build some machine learning and AI in it,” shares Onghanseng. “In terms of understanding the quality of air in different types of locations, we want to have profiles of different types of buildings...In-depth profiling can make uHoo’s analysis and recommendations better.”

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