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CubeSensors review: These little cubes want to make you and your home healthier

Gizmag reviews the senor-packed CubeSensors to see if they can make your home healthier
Gizmag reviews the senor-packed CubeSensors to see if they can make your home healthier
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The CubeSensors can give instant feedback about your environment with a simple tap or shake
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The CubeSensors can give instant feedback about your environment with a simple tap or shake
The CubeSensors will glow red if something needs changing in the room
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The CubeSensors will glow red if something needs changing in the room
The CubeSensors are stylish and unobtrusive little cubes which can be deployed in most rooms without worrying about disrupting the decor
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The CubeSensors are stylish and unobtrusive little cubes which can be deployed in most rooms without worrying about disrupting the decor
CubeSensors can glow blue to show that everything in the room is okay
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CubeSensors can glow blue to show that everything in the room is okay
The light of the CubeSensors shines through a pattern of holes cut into the metal front and rear
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The light of the CubeSensors shines through a pattern of holes cut into the metal front and rear
The CubeSensors come with simple instructions which make setup easy
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The CubeSensors come with simple instructions which make setup easy
CubeSensors are assigned to monitor the environmental levels in a specific room
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CubeSensors are assigned to monitor the environmental levels in a specific room
CubeSensors can be set to Live mode for general living spaces, Work for offices and Sleep for bedrooms
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CubeSensors can be set to Live mode for general living spaces, Work for offices and Sleep for bedrooms
CubeSensors cost US$300 for the small pack with two CubeSensors, $450 for a medium pack with four CubeSensors, and $600 for a large pack with six CubeSensors
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CubeSensors cost US$300 for the small pack with two CubeSensors, $450 for a medium pack with four CubeSensors, and $600 for a large pack with six CubeSensors
CubeSensors can work with the sleep tracking function of Fitbit and Jawbone UP activity trackers
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CubeSensors can work with the sleep tracking function of Fitbit and Jawbone UP activity trackers
The CubeSensors app can show sleep patterns along with the levels of the factors it is tracking
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The CubeSensors app can show sleep patterns along with the levels of the factors it is tracking
The CubeSensors app give simple and actionable tips of how to improve the environment of the room it is monitoring
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The CubeSensors app give simple and actionable tips of how to improve the environment of the room it is monitoring
The way in which the CubeSensors use the information from an activity tracker to provide sleep environment analysis is impressive
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The way in which the CubeSensors use the information from an activity tracker to provide sleep environment analysis is impressive
The CubeSensors app can give simple feedback on a scale of sad face to happy face
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The CubeSensors app can give simple feedback on a scale of sad face to happy face
The CubeSensors app lets users look at the monitored levels in a variety or levels of detail
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The CubeSensors app lets users look at the monitored levels in a variety or levels of detail
The CubeSensors web app can be accessed from anywhere, meaning you can check on you home while away
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The CubeSensors web app can be accessed from anywhere, meaning you can check on you home while away
Acting on the advice from the CubeSensors could help you to feel better
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Acting on the advice from the CubeSensors could help you to feel better
The CubeSensors have a month-long battery and can be charged by micro USB
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The CubeSensors have a month-long battery and can be charged by micro USB
CubeSensors are stylish and discrete enough to be used in most rooms
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CubeSensors are stylish and discrete enough to be used in most rooms
The CubeSensors glow blue or red to give easy feedback
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The CubeSensors glow blue or red to give easy feedback
The CubeSensors will glow red if something needs changing in the room, or blue if everything is okay
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The CubeSensors will glow red if something needs changing in the room, or blue if everything is okay
Once in place CubeSensors use an array of sensors to monitor aspects of the environment including air quality, temperature, humidity, temperature, noise, light and pressure
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Once in place CubeSensors use an array of sensors to monitor aspects of the environment including air quality, temperature, humidity, temperature, noise, light and pressure
Feedback from the CubeSensors is given based on what you want to do in that room, either with a shake-prompted glowing light, or in more detail via a web app.
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Feedback from the CubeSensors is given based on what you want to do in that room, either with a shake-prompted glowing light, or in more detail via a web app.
CubeSensors are little sensor-packed devices which claim to help you become healthier, more productive and even sleep better
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CubeSensors are little sensor-packed devices which claim to help you become healthier, more productive and even sleep better
We tested the CubeSensors along with a Fitbit Charge HR for sleep monitoring
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We tested the CubeSensors along with a Fitbit Charge HR for sleep monitoring
Gizmag reviews the senor-packed CubeSensors to see if they can make your home healthier
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Gizmag reviews the senor-packed CubeSensors to see if they can make your home healthier
The CubeSensors app lets users see monitored information
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The CubeSensors app lets users see monitored information
If you don't want to dive into the data on the CubeSensors app, you can use the scientific scale of sad face to happy face
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If you don't want to dive into the data on the CubeSensors app, you can use the scientific scale of sad face to happy face
The CubeSensors app currently lets you access a 24 hour data history
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The CubeSensors app currently lets you access a 24 hour data history

In a bid to improve their lifestyles an increasing number of people are turning to sensor-toting wearables, but your environment can be just as important as your body. CubeSensors are sensor-packed devices which monitor external factors and give advice to improve your relaxation, productivity or, in conjunction with a Jawbone or Fitbit tracker, sleep quality. Never missing the chance to sleep in the name of work, we recently spent some quality time with the little cubes.

The wireless CubeSensors themselves are stylish and unobtrusive little cubes which can be deployed in most rooms without worrying about disrupting the decor. Once in place they use an array of sensors to monitor aspects of the environment including air quality, temperature, humidity, temperature, noise, light and pressure. Feedback is given based on what you want to do in that room, either with a shake-prompted glowing light, or in more detail via a web app.

In the box you'll find a micro USB power adapter, a base unit which connects to your router via ethernet cable, along with the CubeSensors and micro USB charging cables (the CubeSensors can last a month on a single charge). CubeSensors come in bundles of two, four or six depending on the number of rooms, and what you want to monitor. We were using the smaller pack for the review, and this meant quite a bit of moving them around around the house over the month-long test to use them in bedrooms, the living room and an office. If you want to monitor a number of rooms simultaneously, we'd advise opting for the bigger packs.

Simple and friendly instructions make setting up the CubeSensors a painless operation which simply involves plugging everything in and going to the set-up website. During this process you'll also name each cube, and tell it what sort of environment it is to be located in with a choice of Live (for general living spaces), Work (offices) and Sleep (bedrooms). This sets the optimal target levels for the various settings based on research on indoor comfort and productivity.

If you've assigned one of the CubeSensors to sleep, you can also pair it with a sleep-tracking Fitbit or Jawbone device. This lets you see the data from the CubeSensors along with that from the fitness tracker at the same time, the idea being that you can see if the room temperature, humidity or light coming in through the window is causing periods of disrupted sleep. Not only will you know how many times you woke up, but also why.

In our time with the CubeSensors, we were impressed by not only the amount of information they can monitor, but also how they're not the sort of tech which requires constant attention. If you want to dive into the info via the web app you can, but equally the cubes can sit unnoticed unless you shake or tap them to prompt a blue or red light which shines through the white plastic and the pattern of holes in the metal front and rear. Blue means everything is fine, while red means you need to check the app to see what's wrong.

CubeSensors are little sensor-packed devices which claim to help you become healthier, more productive and even sleep better
CubeSensors are little sensor-packed devices which claim to help you become healthier, more productive and even sleep better

When going to the web app, users can check the status of real-time monitored levels from the CubeSensors on a very accessible scale which ranges from sad face, to happy face. You can also scroll down to see how they've changed over the previous 24 hours. This 24 hour history can also be viewed by category across all wirelessly connected cubes. While most of these categories and their respective units of measure are fairly self explanatory, air quality detects VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).

Along with letting users check specific numbers, the app provides real world actionable advice in a "Ways to Feel Better" section. This could tell you to "Open the windows as soon as possible" or "You might be comfortable with extra heating". While these might seem basic, the team behind CubeSensors say acting on this advice could help users avoid getting a cold, control allergies, or prevent a headache before it happens.

In our tests the information from the CubeSensors was more useful than expected. For example, I found my living-room was frequently registered as colder than it should be for relaxing, and increasing the heating slightly did make it feel more comfortable (I wasn't doing this before as it didn't feel particularly cold). Meanwhile in my office the CubeSensor identified that more light would be beneficial for my productivity, and in my son's bedroom (where I really wanted to ensure the best sleep conditions) I found that the windows needed to be open for longer to get the air quality closer to the identified target.

The way in which the CubeSensors use the information from an activity tracker to provide sleep environment analysis is impressive
The way in which the CubeSensors use the information from an activity tracker to provide sleep environment analysis is impressive

The way in which the CubeSensors use the information from an activity tracker to provide sleep environment analysis was also impressive. If looking at sleep information, users are presented with the various pieces of information tracked by the CubeSensor, and the optional sleep tracking from your fitness tracker. In our case this was a Fitbit Charge HR and sleep tracking was broken into periods of being awake, restless or asleep. This allowed me to see that a seemingly random but frequent 3am period of restfulness was actually being caused by a stray setting on my central heating kicking in for 15 minutes.

However, the CubeSensors are not without issues. The big one being that information is currently only available for the previous 24 hours. This means you can't easily see if a change in habit is having the desired effect on your environment over a period of time. Another issue experienced is that the optimal ranges for the various settings are not universal: being used in a city it was nearly impossible for me to get the air quality to what was deemed a good level.

Other things we'd like to see improved are the way in which you need to manually switch a sensor between modes. It would be nice to set a cube to act in Sleep mode from early evening and overnight, but maybe function to advise on Work or Live modes during the rest of the day.

Considering how well the information is integrated between activity trackers and CubeSensors during sleep, it would also be nice if this could be expanded to work throughout the day. If you threw sensor-laden wearables like the Basis Peak into the mix, there could be some really interesting possibilities to provide an all-day body and environment picture.

If you don't want to dive into the data on the CubeSensors app, you can use the scientific scale of sad face to happy face
If you don't want to dive into the data on the CubeSensors app, you can use the scientific scale of sad face to happy face

As the CubeSensors system develops and matures we have no doubt it will continue to improve. Updates in the pipeline include allowing users to access more historical sensor data to discover meaningful trends over longer periods of time. IFTTT integration is also due to land later this year so the measurements from the CubeSensors can be used to affect the behavior of other smart home devices, not just to track the environment.

We were surprised by just how useful the CubeSensors were. In retrospect it's obvious environmental factors are as important to how you feel as your own body metrics, but it was interesting to see (and feel) the real world changes that could be experienced by acting on the CubeSensors' advice. Though we were checking the CubeSensors far less towards the end of our test, because we had nailed-down conditions in various rooms, seasonal changes would mean the CubeSensors kept being useful longer term.

The CubeSensors app lets users look at the monitored levels in a variety or levels of detail
The CubeSensors app lets users look at the monitored levels in a variety or levels of detail

Getting started with the CubeSensors has a US$300 entry price for the small pack with two CubeSensors, $450 for the medium pack with four CubeSensors, and $600 for the large pack with six CubeSensors. This isn't cheap, but it's a household product rather than an individual one like an activity tracker and could benefit everyone there. For workplaces trying to optimize productivity conditions, it's not hard to see how the CubeSensors could easily pay for themselves several times over.

Product page: CubeSensors

5 comments
Chuck Anziulewicz
Don't you love modern marketing? Create a gadget that no one needs, then convince people that they absolutely cannot do without it.
Chris White
I have better advice to improve relaxation, productivity, and sleep habits. Turn all the devices off. A week completely unplugged and away from artificial light has been demonstrated to improve your sleep habits and reset your internal clock. Vacation does more for productivity and relaxation than access to devices.
S Michael
$450 Right.... Not for me or other peasants. Maybe for the rich, but not for the masses.
Tommo
Not very often I'm negative about new products - I just love innovation, however this is way too expensive and doesn't really solve any problems.
Dave Lawrence
This has more relevance to the grey economy and for people who have long term illness - sensors that can detect ambient issues that could cause problems (such as low temperature, air quality, light levels in sleeping areas). I'd be quite happy to have 2nd or 3rd gen tech like this chirping in my ear rather than bloody Cortana reminding me to pick up my dry cleaning
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