It's easy enough to check the ingredients on the foods that we buy, but how do we know what's in the air that we breathe? Well, there are air-quality-monitoring devices, although they're mostly designed to sit in one place. Silicon Valley-based Sprimo Labs has developed what it claims is a more practical and portable alternative, in the form of its Sprimo Personal Air Monitor. The tiny gadget simply plugs into an iPhone's Lightning port.
The Sprimo doesn't require batteries, nor does it even need to be turned on. Once it's plugged into the phone and the accompanying app is launched, it just starts measuring the temperature, humidity and quality of the surrounding air.
The quality reading is based on the levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air, and is expressed on the phone's screen as a numerical and color value – low numbers and a green color are good, medium numbers and a yellow color are OK, while high numbers and a red color are nasty.
Of course, what users do next is up to them. They could just leave the area, or set about removing the source of the VOCs, if applicable – things like toxic carpeting and cigarette smoke can be removed from an indoor setting, for example, while it's a little more difficult to get automobile exhaust out of an outdoor setting.
Additionally, the app allows users to become part of a Sprimo community, in which air quality readings from multiple users in multiple locations are displayed on a city map.
The device is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, where a pledge of US$20 will get you one – assuming it reaches production, that is. The planned retail price is $40. And yes, an Android version is said to be on its way.