Happy Earth Day! #earthday2016 is a global event marking the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. On this day, we would like to update you on your order of the TZOA wearable pollution monitor, plus share our journey and recent experiences with the TZOA Research Device (RD02).
In 2014, TZOA aimed to create a miniature, low-cost, accurate air quality sensor for detecting harmful particles in the air known as Particulate Matter (PM2.5) that would sense fine particles 2.5 microns in size and smaller that can enter into the lungs and cause irreversible damage. PM2.5 has emerged as the most harmful type of pollution for human health as cited by the EPA and WHO; it affects people with respiratory conditions, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disorders.
Our Mission Has Traction
We are driven to create better environments for humanity and help people thrive, so our team of full-time engineers and passionate entrepreneurs were inspired to create something that the average person could afford to buy, bring anywhere, and understand their immediate air quality in real-time. We brought you the enviro-tracker in our Indiegogo campaign, and after proving the design was real, the wearable device received innovation awards from Time Magazine, Popular Science, and PCMagazine.
Solving a Pain Point
At this time in 2015 we were thrilled, also because we were being contacted by some of the largest and most credible research institutions in the world. No one had seen a PM2.5 sensor this small before and the wearable form factor proved without a doubt that there was a custom proprietary sensor behind the scenes. The state of low-cost monitoring technologies was bleak and the accuracy was proving poor. Many devices claiming PM2.5 detection use one of two off-the-shelf sensors manufactured in China (Shinyei, Sharp), so testing a new sensor was on the top of everyone’s mind.
Our First Product
Before our Indiegogo campaign even ended, we began to pre-order an ‘alpha’ product we called the Research Device (RD02), which was just the wearable sensor in a bigger enclosure with a large battery and high quality components that didn’t take power conservation into consideration. We did a limited run (<200 units) of RD02 devices and selectively sold them to customers who would evaluate the sensor or add value. After a number of delays due to bad component vendors and a relatively small amount of resources, we fulfilled on all of our orders between January and March 2016.
TZOA RD02 in China, February 2016
The first research results came back to us from Utah, where a couple of groups including the University of Utah conducted sensor evaluations. This specific test was the hardest one imaginable, the TZOA RD02 was tested against a Thermo Scientific TEOM-1405, which is the regarded as the ‘gold standard’ of reference devices endorsed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and costs upwards of $40,000. The results showed that we correlated with an R^2 of 0.964, in other words, RD02 proved to be 96.4% accurate: