screen shot 2019 03 21 at 11.27.18 am - Atmotube Pro review: It's a tricorder for measuring air quality

Atmotube Pro review: It’s a tricorder for measuring air quality

Air quality, both indoor and outdoor is increasingly becoming a serious concern for city dwellers and suburban folks alike. The pocket-sized Atmotube Pro works as an advocate for your mind and body, arming you with proactive information in an easy-to-use and understand way. To that effect, it measures air pollutants in real time and sends them to your phone, alerting you immediately if conditions become unsafe. Being compared to the likes of a Star Trek tricorder, its reputation is well earned when you hold the Atmotube Pro in one hand and your phone in the other, looking a lot like you’re Spock on a mission getting readings.

Unboxing the Atmotube Pro

Right out of the box you’ll notice how light and portable the Atmotube Pro is. It weighs just under a quarter of a pound (3.6 ounces) and is a little less wide than a deck of cards. It comes with a carabiner which I used immediately to clip on to a purse strap.

Charging up the device takes roughly an hour or so, and it will last for about a week. A USB Type-C cable is included for charging. The long 7-day battery life is a true asset to this product because once a week charging is manageable, and that means you get a whole week of air quality measurements uninterrupted.

How it measures air quality

The Atmotube Pro uses a metal oxide based sensor that comes pre-calibrated and ready to use. This can provide exact amounts of particulate matter 1, 2.5, and 10, as well as volatile organic compounds. The accompanying app offers a handy explanation on what all of these numbers mean.

If you didn’t know it already, indoor pollution caused by our cooking habits, cleaning product usage, and other factors are just as impactful on our health, if not more than outdoor air pollution. The Atmotube Pro’s feedback lets you tweak your in-home habits for optimal air quality.

Let’s break down what those pollutants are and how you would interpret them: Particulate matter is what debris in the air becomes when it is broken up very small and suspended into the air. This can include dust, pollen, smoke, aerosols, fumes, vapors, soot, fly ash or mists. PM 1, PM 2.5, and PM 10 are used to represent size, with PM 1 being the smallest and most dangerous because the finer the particles, the more they get in and stay lodged in your lungs aggravating them. VOCs are the other measurement used and those are emitted from gases from things like paint, cleaning supplies, glues, and even printer ink. It includes things like gasoline, benzene, formaldehyde as well as solvents.

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You may think that you wouldn’t experience exposure to these sort of pollutants from within your home, but you may be very surprised after using the Atmotube Pro for a week or two. Using the Atmotube is a very educating and eye-opening experience.

What the App Tells You

The Atmotube Pro App is very user-friendly. It clearly states what the measurements are, what they mean, and also offers graphs to track the metrics with. It will send you notifications when air quality dips below the specified parameter you set.

Is the Atmotube Pro useful?

As an asthmatic, often the first signs I have of danger are from my lungs feeling aggravated. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keeping an eye on these conditions via the Atmotube app lets me know sometimes when I need to proactively remove myself from a situation. This could also be a great tool for kids that are asthmatic and may not be great at communicating their lung status to you.

However, as all asthmatics know, listening to your lungs is key. It doesn’t always take high amounts of a trigger to make for asthma. There are times where the Atmotube Pro shows very little pollutants and yet I will still have asthma in reaction to something in the environment. So the Atmotube Pro is ultimately not a complete solution for someone suffering from asthma, but it is still very useful.

Being that summer for much of the United States has come to mean lots of wildfires, the Atmotube Pro would be handy for locals to use to understand their local air quality and make decisions about going out. US weather stations are few and far in between, so county-reported air quality reports are not going to be as specific to your home area as the Atmotube Pro will be.

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Features we love, and features we want

Beyond air quality, the Atmotube Pro also works as a weather station that displays barometric pressure, humidity, and altitude. Humidity is a great metric to help keep mold and dust mite conditions down in your home and even to anticipate when a frizzy hair day coming. Barometric pressure is useful for those of us that suffer headaches or joint aches when a storm comes in. As the app says, when the barometric pressure drops, so does your blood pressure and some of us feel it more than others.

atmotube app - Atmotube Pro review: It's a tricorder for measuring air quality

 

 

That said, a feature we’d like to see added is more expansive symptom tracking that corresponds with all this information. As of now, the app only offers a sliding scale of smiley faces to unhappy faces, to track how you feel in the current conditions. We would like to, for instance, be able to see how a headache or a cough we’re experiencing correlates to that day’s air quality or weather conditions.

The Bottom Line

The Atmotube Pro is a real-life air quality “tricorder” that goes beyond what the National Weather Service offers in air quality reports by providing you with local real-time air quality reports straight to your phone. This lets you proactively avoid bad air, change habits that contribute to poor air quality indoors, and be your own advocate for making informed air health choices. It’s also a useful tool for parents of small children that can’t yet communicate their lung conditions well.

At a pre-order price of $131, the Atmotube Pro is a small price to pay for the peace of mind and useful information that it will provide you that will potentially help keep you healthier.

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