“Breathe better, live better”
Airthings’ Wave Mini monitors air quality inside your home
Last year, Norway-based Airthings launched its newest smart air quality monitor, the Wave Mini. Like the name sounds, the Wave Mini is compact, and with a price of $79 ($73.64 at most retailers), it’s affordable. According to the company, it is “a perfect starting point for any homeowner to get insight into the quality of their indoor air.” The launch took place at the Digital Health Summit during the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas among more than 4,500 exhibitions.
The Wave Mini is another development in Airthings’ product line of radon and air quality detectors. The company was founded in 2008 to offer accurate, user friendly radon detectors, making them as common as smoke detectors. Several scientists working together at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) saw an opportunity. Traditionally, consumers only had two options: call a professional to test their radon levels, or purchase a single use charcoal test and send it to a lab for the results. The founders wanted to put consumers, as well as business owners, in control of their indoor air quality, enabling people to stay healthy.
The first product was launched at the end of 2011 and entered the U.S. market in 2016. Today the company has offices in Chicago and Québec City, Québec. The Wave Plus was a recipient of CES’ 2019 Innovation Awards, “representing the most impactful and groundbreaking technology products released in 2018.” Airthings was on Time’s list of the 100 Best Innovations of 2019.
The Wave Mini measures three vital components in the air—total volatile organic compounds (VOCs), temperature, and humidity—in every room of the house. According to the press release announcing the Mini, “VOCs are common toxins and potentially harmful chemicals that are omnipresent in indoor environments, typically caused by human-made pollutants like aerosol sprays, paints, fumes, cleaning products and even humans themselves.” Amazingly, the average person spends 90% of their time indoors, and there are often simple remedies to improve one’s air quality.
A Wave Mini can be placed in every room. Users can follow past and present measurements through the Airthings mobile app and online dashboard. It’s Bluetooth enabled and works with Amazon Alexa, IFTTT, and Google Assistant.
The Wave Mini does not, however, measure radon. Radon is an invisible gas formed in the earth’s crust. It surrounds every one of us as part of the air we breathe and is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. If considered as a separate disease, lung cancer in people who have never smoked would rank seventh in global cancer mortality. Approximately 21,000 people die from radon-related lung cancer every year in the United States alone. The rocks and soil beneath our homes contain traces of uranium. Over time, the uranium breaks down and forms other elements like radon.
Radon rises and can enter a home or workplace through cracks in the foundation, entry points for pipes, wiring and more. According to a presentation quoted on Airthings’ website, children are particularly susceptible, since their organs are still developing and their tissues are more vulnerable to DNA damage. Children also weigh less, increasing their relative exposure. These factors make radon up to 10 times more dangerous for children than for adults. Airthings customers who want to detect radon levels should consider the Wave or Wave Plus models.
But Airthings is confident that the Mini is a good option for families who are less concerned about radon. “We believe that if you breathe better, you live better,” said Øyvind Birkenes, CEO of Airthings in the press release. “Many believe the air in their home is clean. However, as asthma and allergy numbers rise, our mission to deliver affordable, user-friendly products that improve health and comfort through air-quality awareness, becomes even more important, and the Wave Mini will help us achieve that goal.”
The year 2018 was a good one, adding a distribution agreement with Amazon to ongoing agreements with Best Buy and Home Depot, and reaching revenues of almost NOK 100 million (up from NOK 60 million in 2017). Last year, revenue reached NOK 150 million with exports representing 90% of that total. Airthings is also expanding their reach with their new concept of healthy building, a service for office buildings and schools. Recently, they had a new round of financing to the tune of NOK 55 million.
Birkenes, who has been CEO since 2016, anticipates NOK 200 million in revenue in 2020, nothing that “consumers and businesses are two very different markets. We therefore have two separate sales forces.” Before coming to Airthings, he worked at Texas Instruments. He graduated from the University of Minnesota.
Also noteworthy is that the Norwegian Alpine skier Aksel Lund Svindal is a board member and among the company’s investors. After his last injury, the two-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time World Champion recuperated in Silicon Valley to learn about high-tech startups. He retired last year.
For more information, see www.airthings.com.
This article originally appeared in the March 20, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.