What you need to know
- Amazon's new smart home device will detect dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, dust and allergens, or volatile organic compounds in your home.
- You'll receive an air quality score and warning notifications through the Alexa app, or verbal warnings through your Echo devices.
- Amazon's monitor also tracks your home's temperature and humidity.
Amazon is selling a device that will let us know if our homes are full of "indoor allergens and toxins." The Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor is a Works with Alexa device that warns you of poor air quality conditions, so you know to open a window or turn on an air purifier. It has a color-coded LED on its front; if it turns yellow or red, you know you need to take action.
It also purports to detect carbon monoxide levels, though the product store page notes that this monitor is "not a substitute for a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm, and is not certified as a CO alarm or detector." It also notes that its CO reading accuracy variation is "±5 ppm or ±30%," with readings getting less accurate over the product's lifetime.
In other words, don't go unplugging your current CO monitor and assume Alexa alerts are a qualified substitute. But it will warn you of general air quality issues that you wouldn't know of otherwise. You can check the current air quality levels and any dangerous chemical levels on your Alexa app or using an Echo Show display.
The Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor measures for volatile organic compounds (VLCs), which the EPA explains are often "human-made chemicals...produced in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants." If you've been using too much "cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products," your air monitor could warn you that the chemicals are lingering in the air. The EPA claims VLCs "can persist in the air long after the activity is completed."
Along with tracking chemicals and particulate matter (aka dust), Amazon's monitor will also note your home's temperature and humidity. If you buy multiple monitors — which Amazon would obviously love for you to do — you can name them different names/ zones to view in the app, then ask your Alexa speaker what the temperature or air quality is in a particular room. This will matter more for people will large houses.
Now that many of us are spending more time indoors, the Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor could give people a wake-up call that their homes have unhealthy air for their allergies or health. Compared to the other best air quality monitors, it's comparatively affordable but doesn't detect chemicals like CO2 or radon as some competing devices do. You'll also likely have to buy an air purifier to go with it, especially if you live in an area where opening the windows would only let in more allergens or pollutants.
Keep your lungs clear
Watch out for VOCs, PM, and CO
The Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor will notify you through your Alexa smart home if your air has unhealthy or dangerous levels of chemicals. Running on micro-USB to a power outlet, it'll never run out of battery. You can check your Alexa app to see air quality in different rooms, or see trends over time. It's available for pre-order and will ship out on December 8.
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Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.