More than an air monitor, new Laser Egg aims to be a node in big data maps

With its severe air pollution problem, China is now home to arguably the largest network of official air monitor stations covering 114 Chinese cities with highly accurate industrial-level air monitors. For megacity Beijing, there are 35 stations broadcasting real-time air quality information to the public.

Official air monitor stations across China. Screenshot from Air Matters App
Official air monitor stations across China. Screenshot from Air Matters App

This gives private companies several opportunities to tap into the big data industry. Beijing-based consumer air monitor manufacturer Kaiterra, previously known as Origins, on Friday unveiled Laser Egg 2 and Laser Egg 2+.

Their earlier model Laser Egg entered Apple Stores throughout China last March and provides indoor PM 2.5 readings. Its new model Laser Egg 2 includes features like temperature, humidity, and weather forecasts. The upgraded Laser Egg 2+ is designed to provide even more readings on another category of pollutants: TVOC, a grouping of a wide range of organic chemical compounds such as natural gas and formaldehyde. An abbreviation of total volatile organic compounds, TVOC’s concentrations in newly decorated houses are often higher than what is considered healthy. Health effects from inhaling high levels of TVOC include nose, throat irritation and headaches.

Laser Egg 2, priced at RMB 599 (USD 87), will go on sale in late April, and Laser Egg 2+ is scheduled to start crowdfunding later this month before shipment begins in June.

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Laser Egg 2. Photo from Kaiterra

In order to help customers get its devices connected to the Internet, Kaiterra has obtained permission from Apple to have the new generation of Laser Eggs support Apple Homekits. According to Kaiterra, Apple HomeKits will help its devices link to the Internet much easier.

Kaiterra’s founder Liam Bates stressed that for most smart devices, the process is complicated and it requires a user to constantly switch from Wi-Fi, a company’s smartphone app, and the device. However, to link Kaiterra’s new device to the Apple HomeKit, Bates demonstrated that you just need to scan the barcode and wait for a few seconds before it is connected.

Kaiterra founder Liam Bates at the Laser Egg 2 launch event. Photo by Heather Wang/AllChinaTech
Kaiterra founder Liam Bates at the Laser Egg 2 launch event. Photo by Heather Wang/AllChinaTech

These two new products are part of the startup’s ambition to build a gigantic network of air monitors.

“Accuracy is the most important to us. If this feature is ‘almost’ good, the product will be a failure. We consider it a tool that collects data. That’s why we have positions like optics engineer and environment engineer, which do not exist in other air monitor companies,” said Liam Bates.

Domestically, Kaiterra will compete with weather and air quality apps in the big data sector. Moji is a leading weather app in China. It gets official air quality data and send them to its 500 million users.

“There are 35 official air monitor stations in Beijing. However, there will be tens of thousands of Laser Egg monitors uploading data every minute. The volume of data will be fundamentally different. We will collect, process with algorithms, and then come out with user data,” said Bates.

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