November 2016 Update

November 2016 Update

Hi TZOA customers,

TZOA is better faster stronger, which is a good thing since pollution is still an enormous endemic. Unicef just reported that 300 million children breathe toxic air:

"Among the most dangerous pollutants are air particles known as PM2.5, which are a small fraction of the width of a human hair. They can be released from fossil fuel combustion and industry, and include natural sources like dust. The ultrafine particles enter the bloodstream through the lungs, worsening cardiac disease and increasing the risk of stroke and heart failure, in addition to causing severe respiratory problems, like asthma and pneumonia."

You'll recall that TZOA builds the worlds smallest particulate matter (PM2.5) sensor with high accuracy. So, in the face of so much demand, what have we been up to?

Greenbuild International Conference and Expo
Some of you saw TZOA in Los Angeles earlier this month. You might be familiar with the LEED (energy efficiency) certification by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), who also put on the Greenbuild conference. TZOA was deemed a “revolutionary technology” by the USGBC, where they are quickly transitioning towards encompassing human health.

Fortune Brainstorm Heath Conference
TZOA CEO Kevin Hart will be at in San Diego November 1st and 2nd for the magazine's exclusive event, featuring guests that include Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post and now Thrive Global, and the CEO of Fitbit, James Park.

Secured additional resources
Since our Indiegogo campaign, we've been fortunate enough to have hired additional TZOA teammates, with a focus on engineering and manufacturing. We've raised outside capital to not only keep the gears turning, but also make sure they are well-oiled.

Introducing the TZOA pollution map
How many outdoor air quality sensors are in the U.S.? Not enough. TZOA has been granted access to a live stream of governmental pollution sensory data, which we have visualized on a map via our website. Just select PM2.5 from the drop down menu and press play. As you can see, there are gaping omission in where monitors are located, and not enough resolution where the data does exist. We plan to change that.

New product coming soon
The TZOA team has been bifurcated into two highly-capable groups. One team is working on the wearable pollution monitor (ETA 2017); while the other team is working on the RD03 and a new hardware/software product being announced this January. I promise it will be something you've never seen before, and every bit as innovative as the wearable.

High-volume production
This is a big one. We've been busy setting up our manufacturing and supply chain. In 2017 we will create one hundred thousands air quality monitors, making TZOA the largest (in volume) particulate matter sensor manufacturer in the world.

On behalf of the entire team, thank you for your enduring patience. We've read your emails and I can assure you that we understand the burden we are carrying. What we are doing is challenging and there is no good alternative; that's what keeps us up at night and going every morning.

Best, Team TZOA.

Earth Day 2016 April Update

Earth Day 2016 April Update

Dear Supporters,

Happy Earth Day! #earthday2016 is a global event marking the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. On this day, we would like to update you on your order of the TZOA wearable pollution monitor, plus share our journey and recent experiences with the TZOA Research Device (RD02).

Emerging Need
In 2014, TZOA aimed to create a miniature, low-cost, accurate air quality sensor for detecting harmful particles in the air known as Particulate Matter (PM2.5) that would sense fine particles 2.5 microns in size and smaller that can enter into the lungs and cause irreversible damage. PM2.5 has emerged as the most harmful type of pollution for human health as cited by the EPA and WHO; it affects people with respiratory conditions, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disorders.

Our Mission Has Traction
We are driven to create better environments for humanity and help people thrive, so our team of full-time engineers and passionate entrepreneurs were inspired to create something that the average person could afford to buy, bring anywhere, and understand their immediate air quality in real-time. We brought you the enviro-tracker in our Indiegogo campaign, and after proving the design was real, the wearable device received innovation awards from Time Magazine, Popular Science, and PCMagazine.

Solving a Pain Point
At this time in 2015 we were thrilled, also because we were being contacted by some of the largest and most credible research institutions in the world. No one had seen a PM2.5 sensor this small before and the wearable form factor proved without a doubt that there was a custom proprietary sensor behind the scenes. The state of low-cost monitoring technologies was bleak and the accuracy was proving poor. Many devices claiming PM2.5 detection use one of two off-the-shelf sensors manufactured in China (Shinyei, Sharp), so testing a new sensor was on the top of everyone's mind.

Our First Product
Before our Indiegogo campaign even ended, we began to pre-order an 'alpha' product we called the Research Device (RD02), which was just the wearable sensor in a bigger enclosure with a large battery and high quality components that didn't take power conservation into consideration. We did a limited run (<200 units) of RD02 devices and selectively sold them to customers who would evaluate the sensor or add value. After a number of delays due to bad component vendors and a relatively small amount of resources, we fulfilled on all of our orders between January and March 2016.

TZOA RD02 in China, February 2016

TZOA RD02 in China, February 2016

Great Results
The first research results came back to us from Utah, where a couple of groups including the University of Utah conducted sensor evaluations. This specific test was the hardest one imaginable, the TZOA RD02 was tested against a Thermo Scientific TEOM-1405, which is the regarded as the 'gold standard' of reference devices endorsed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and costs upwards of $40,000. The results showed that we correlated with an R^2 of 0.964, in other words, RD02 proved to be 96.4% accurate:
 

Limitations
We also had many devices sent back which didn't respond well to swinging environmental conditions, especially outdoors. A few had been deployed outdoors in winter's freezing night-time temperatures and the devices didn't work properly afterwards. Fortunately we know exactly what components, materials, and design considerations are needed to overcome those challenges, we've also identified a number of huge improvements that will yield:

  • operation under dynamic environmental conditions
  • consistently great sensor performance (both sensitivity and accuracy)
  • particle sizing (IE small diesel particle vs. a large pollen particle)
  • longer lifetime of product
  • less chance of contamination from pollutants

Using Our Learnings
The portable RD02 unit was $600 and often plugged into an external power source or used the large capacity battery; meanwhile, the wearable is a $139 device that is extremely low-power. It's important that the next sensor version we build benefits from all of the learnings of the RD02. We have identified several key electrical and optical components that are coming on the market soon, which will help close the performance, size, and cost gap to make the wearable as good (or better) than we had originally promised.

Announcement
The RD02 is the smallest portable PM2.5 product on the market. By making the improvements outlined above we now have an opportunity to release the most advanced portable PM2.5 product on the market, one that is extremely high performance and can warn you about harmful pollution. We would call it RD03 and besides particle pollution we would add a VOC sensor to detect volatile chemicals in the air. It would work whether you set it up outdoors, inside your home, at work, or in your car.

The Wearable
Software-wise we've built the first version of the iOS and Android app, initially for the researchers, which we are submitting on the app stores soon. So what about the wearable? Due to delays, new components hitting the market soon, and an important sensor design iteration, we believe moving to the RD03 now instead of the wearable is our best option.

RD0(3) RD0(FREE)
What about your order? We will send all of our enviro-tracker customers and Indiegogo backers the more expensive RD03 for free, followed by the wearable you ordered when it is available, a 2-for-1 deal. We want you to have the TZOA technology in your hands as soon as possible and keep working towards an uncompromising vision for the wearable. We can accomplish that by giving each of you an RD03; a world-class wifi-enabled air quality monitor. You'll understand pollution levels and sources in your communities/homes so action can be taken. RD03 can do that with great consistency and performance and we want you to be involved as our beta-testers.

The Plan
Our ambitious goal is to implement our sensor design improvements, implement the new features, and have an RD03 in everyone's hands in less than 6 months. This means a short R&D engineering phase, design and development, followed by manufacturing and fulfillment; a process we've already been through and know well.

TZOA on the Great Wall of China, February 2016

TZOA on the Great Wall of China, February 2016

The Future
We plan on doing everything with the RD03 that we had intended with the wearable, including creating a real-time map of pollution across your city and launching an exciting citizen science data collection initiative. You can even use an external battery pack to bring the RD03 with you. RD03 will be friendly with the wearable in the ecosystem we are creating and, not to sound too much like Tesla, but there are more product and feature announcements coming soon!

Thank You
We are committed to being more communicative moving forward with product progress. When turmoil and big decisions like this need to be made, it forces hesitance into what we can say with certainty. We appreciate your patience and commitment to a clean air future.

We hope you can appreciate our transparency and honesty. Please write a comment below and we will respond promptly!

Best, Kevin R. Hart and the TZOA team.

 

October 2015 Update

October 2015 Update

How would air quality research change if we could do studies with 300 sensors instead of 3,  and what if people could wear these sensors for personal exposure studies? What if an air quality device could give mass concentration, particle count, size distribution, and didn't drift?

Some of the plastics ready for assembly

Some of the plastics ready for assembly

You may have noticed how much we at TZOA stress our focus on air quality detection of particles known as Particulate Matter PM2.5/10. More research continues to come out proving how valuable and actionable it is in everyday life. From prenatal health to white matter in the brain, and harmful diesel emissions that car manufacturers aren't proud of.. particulate matter is truly a valuable metric.

RD02 is the name of our new TZOA Research Device v2, made for researchers. Similar to how CRISPR/Cas9 technology has revolutionized genome editing, we wanted to create a tool that empowered researchers to conduct more impactful studies. More published papers and better insights are needed to solve large global air pollution problems and lower human exposure levels, whether indoors or outdoors, in the EU, U.S. or China.

RD02 is much smaller than the RD01

RD02 is much smaller than the RD01


We're seeing two major trends in the low-cost air quality detection space:

  1. More sensor modules are coming out like the Shinyei dust sensor. These off-the-shelf sensors will eventually improve in accuracy and become commoditized.
     
  2. More and more devices are coming out that use these off-the-shelf sensors and package them up as a 'real products', usable by average people. Unfortunately a lot of these companies aren't able to innovate on the hardware beyond the industrial design, and so they choose to focus on software. For example, Atmotube and Netatmo simply avoid including particulate matter, opting for tVOC/CO2 metrics combined with bold marketing materials. 

Luckily, in Los Angeles, the Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) set up a state-of-the-art testing chamber to evaluate these type of devices.
The results were recently made public on their website: http://www.aqmd.gov/aq-spec/evaluations-2#&MainContent_C001_Col00=0 
With their help we can educate and gain transparency on what really works, as well as understand how we can improve as an industry.

rejected RD02 PCB. nothing to see here!

rejected RD02 PCB. nothing to see here!

TZOA-RD02 sensors will be evaluated by SCAQMD and others through similar tests. We are confident because we've spent a long time with a lot of talented engineers & thought-leaders, creating not only a new product, but also a next generation sensor technology.

Delivery Update: big wins mixed with unexpected speed bumps.

  • Plastics and circuit boards are ready for assembly.
  • Firmware and software almost ready.
  • CE certification for Europe and Asia is taking longer than expected. We had to source pre-certified CE lasers. Then we had to deeply understand what directives were applicable to our product before we included this mark that allows us to ship to places such as the EU. Soon we can sign a declaration of conformity and send RD02 to these areas.
  • 200 non-CE-certified lasers we had ordered (after testing samples) showed up completely out of spec today, so we must get replacements ASAP or this will delay delivery. 
  • The batteries we had spec'd were on backorder with the closest alternative being 600mAh less than we're used to. Luckily the new cells should be ready before shipping.

 

 

We're doing our best to deliver everyone their devices in November; that we can promise. If we get replacement lasers soon, we can have units shipped to CE and non-CE countries from the 15-20th of November. We're excited to get RD02 in your hands.

More updates really soon on how everything we have done has been working towards the miniature consumer TZOA 'enviro-tracker'. Thank you.
-Kevin R. Hart, TZOA

 

Health Effects of Air Pollution: What You Need To Know

Health Effects of Air Pollution: What You Need To Know

Guest Post by TZOA Ambassador and PhD Candidate Ekaterina (Kat) Galkina.

How many environmental hazards do we get exposed to on a day-to-day basis? Since air pollution is not always visible to the naked eye or smelled by the nose, we really don’t have a good sense of what our lungs’ immune cells have to combat every day.

In the indoor environment there are several inconspicuous culprits creating harmful pollution such as emissions from cooking and burning incense or candles. Who would have guessed that cooking burgers creates higher emissions than cooking bacon?[1] The seemingly innocuous act of printing and photocopying releases nanoparticles that once inhaled are small enough to pass through the olfactory bulb into one’s brain. Once there, the foreign substances may initiate a harmful overactivation of the body’s immune system, which could damage the brain.[2]

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Ah, the joys of city living. You’d think going for a run in the morning or after work would contribute to an altruistic healthy lifestyle; however, the worst levels of fine particulate matter (PM) – specks of waste at least 30 times finer than a human hair [3] - occur in cold weather. Unless you are running in a park, being proximal to exhaust pipe pollution from dozens of cars stuck in heavy traffic may be doing more harm than good. And when you open a window to let in some “fresh” air in the summertime, you’re likely to be introducing your home to millions of unwelcome pollution particles [4]. It doesn’t take a Chernobyl-level incident to inadvertently get exposed to all sorts of toxins during daily activities.

If you knew that you were walking into a zone of high pollution, would you try to avoid it if you could? Of course! In order to “see” the air quality you would need to have a device that accurately monitors air pollution and is small enough to comfortably carry around with you everywhere. This is the idea behind the new wearable environmental tracker, TZOA. This innovative new product would allow people to #seetheair via an app on their smartphones. The TZOA monitor measures the presence of coarse and fine particles suspended in the air. The need for such a device is astounding. After all, if you saw construction up ahead and knew how much fine particulate pollution is carried in all that dust from heavy machinery,[5] you may opt to take an alternate route.

The harder choice to make is to uproot yourself (and also your family) and move out of a city that has consistently toxic levels of air pollution. In Beijing, Mexico City and Los Angeles hazy outlines of the skyline are drowning in smog made of ozone and PM. In New Mexico, the levels are enough to produce Alzheimer’s-like symptoms in dogs[6] (yes, dogs!). On the EPA’s list of the most toxic cities in the US, Los Angeles holds the #1 spot for highest ozone levels.[7] But it’s hardly a match for Beijing, where if the PM concentration even reached the pollution levels of Los Angeles, life expectancy could increase by over five years! [8]

But even at relatively low levels air pollution can have a detrimental effect on our health. The biggest impact that particle pollution has is on heart and lung health, though recent evidence also implicates poor air quality as a contributing factor to neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s.[9] Short-term pollution and long-term pollution are both associated with a range of health risks, to which children and the elderly are the most vulnerable. The associated health conditions may range from worsening of respiratory issues (such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) to the development of cancer, as seen in the most recent case of 9/11 survivors.[10] On days when particle pollution really spikes, investigators have observed a rise in hospitalizations and even deaths from respiratory and heart conditions such as heart attacks, heart failure, and stroke.[11]

So what do you do? Knowledge is power. And it takes a lot of knowledge to make our voices heard. The hundreds of scientific articles on toxic exposure make a gradual difference in changing policy. After all, the Clean Air Act has already been revised twice since its creation in 1970.[12] However, the power of social media equipped with an army of tiny easily accessible air trackers may be just the catalyst our society needs to clean up our skies for the sake of the next generation to come. 

 

Links:

[1]: http://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad150099

[2]: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23784066

[3]: http://www.epa.gov/pm/basic.html

[4]: http://now.tufts.edu/articles/big-road-blues-pollution-highways

[5]: http://www.cdc.gov/air/particulate_matter.html

[6]: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15513908

[7]: http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/city-rankings/most-polluted-cities.html

[8]: http://www.chinasmack.com/2011/pictures/beijing-in-dense-polluted-fog-air-quality-over-14-days.html

[9]: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25310992

[10]: http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/11/health/911-cancer-treatment/

[11]: http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/health-risks/health-risks-particle.html

[12]: http://www.epa.gov/air/caa/amendments.html

TZOA Update August 2015

TZOA Update August 2015

It's been a while! Please spend a few minutes readings this update.

Disclaimer: This is a formal update intended to update our backers about our technical development and fulfillment of the TZOA Research Devices. We will not get to the developments of the “enviro-tracker” and how excited we are about making a product that can benefit everyone // solve air quality issues; that will be a separate update soon!

Focus

TZOA has progressed significantly since our Indiegogo campaign was successfully funded 2 months ago on June 18th, 2015. Our focus post-campaign was late-September fulfillment of the 'version 2.0' TZOA Research Devices (RD02). Fortunately, our less expensive “enviro-tracker” uses the same technology as the research device, so the progress made contributes directly to the enviro-tracker's progress. These two products develop in a linear fashion rather than in parallel.

As a company, our initial focus was to create products that contain an accurate air quality sensing technology, an innovative new technology we have developed that is both miniature and affordable. This is important because it results in useful products that can recommend actionable 'air advice' and also has the ability to evaluate the efficacy of different solutions for air pollution issues.

Before our IGG campaign began, we had a fully functional first version of the TZOA Research Device (RD01) containing our air quality sensing technology. We sent units out to be evaluated or included in projects, for example, to the University of British Columbia for a study in India - as well as other reputable organizations.


Science

At the start of the IGG campaign, we had done a 3rd party evaluation of our proprietary air quality sensor technology for detecting particles (PM2.5/10). We correlated our sensor to a $9000 TSI DustTrak DRX research grade sensor and verified an R-squared value of .75 (linear regression) with .95 being the theoretical max, .95 representing a near-perfect correlation. We had advanced so quickly that by the end of the IGG campaign, we had modified the sensor to achieve a result as high as .92 and .94 R-squared values.

The problem is that our results were good but not consistent. Our design for manufacturing (DFM) was not where it needed to be in order to achieve repeatable and optimal results. We saw everything from low .8X all the way up to mid .9X R-squared values. We created a tool to help us align our laser and other optics, but this was a painstakingly long task and drastically increased the resources (including time) it took to produce one unit. We brought a design engineer on board to tackle our problem who has done DFM for Nokia's smartphones (produced in the millions) among other smaller projects.

 

Characterization

Great correlation to a proven research-grade sensor is very valuable, but knowing what size range of particles our sensors is actually seeing is a different conversation. It's possible that we are detecting much larger particles above the 10 micron size range that just so happen to correlate to the amount of smaller particles, due to a favorable particle distribution curve. In order to determine this, we needed a more professional setup than the testing chamber we had made - particles tend to clump together so we needed to locate a proper wind tunnel and sophisticated method to aerosolize particles.

Very recently we found exactly what we were looking for, and we tested our sensors detection to monodisperse particles between the sizes of 1 to 10 microns. There was a risk here that our sensor would detect absolutely nothing, but instead we saw many particles across a wide distribution. We are now confident that we are seeing PM10 particles down to 1 micron in size. More testing is required to get more specific about our exact minimum detection threshold and maximum cut point. We will update you as we make progress and receive the results of 3rd party evaluations.
 

 

Goals

The RD02 TZOA Research Device that we are shipping out to Indiegogo backers will be greatly improved from the RD01 units described above. By beta-testing our original units, we received a lot of feedback, and it's clear that there were some necessary improvements. We listened to you and made adjustments. The main improvements will be:

  • Increased performance. The results from the characterization tests we performed (above) had a dual-purpose: we were testing a few different sensor configurations, and we identified a modification greatly improves our sensitivity to smaller particles, as a result we are seeing ~3X more particles. This modification will be in the RD02 units we deliver.
  • Miniaturization. We are going from a dual printed circuit board design (PCB) to a single-board, multi-layer design. Having one board allows us to design a product that is significantly thinner. We are anticipating the RD02 units to be ~30% thinner than the RD01 units.
  • Manufacturable design. Our RD01 units were hand assembled, aligned, and calibrated. The RD02 unit production will be a semi-automated process, meaning we can produce more units at a lower cost and with better repeatability / out of the box variability.
  • Commercial grade. The units we are shipping out will have at a minimum full FCC/CE/IC certifications. We are also conducting RF and EMC testing.
  • IO Port. We are adding a general purpose IO port for device interface. This means that upon request we can develop peripherals for the TZOA unit, whether that is a way to increase battery life (solar panel), internet connectivity(PLE or WiFi), expanded storage capacity, or other 3rd party sensors (air quality, GPS, etc...); we now have a port for those accessories!
  • Maintainable. These units will include the ability to easily clean the sensor in case of contamination from extended use in extremely high pollution areas (industrial or developing countries).
  • Improved software. Through Bluetooth Low Energy, our devices connects to the TZOA research app (currently private). We are making improvements to this that were asked for!

Delay

Unfortunately almost all of these improvements were discovered and scoped through an R&D phase that extended longer than we had planned for, and the implementation of these necessary improvements into the RD02 device wasn't accounted for in our timeline. Instead of the original estimated delivery date of late-September, we are pushing back the estimated delivery date to late-October, specifically we are expecting to ship the pre-ordered units in the last week of October.

We have built extensive gantt charts and are confident that we can deliver these units at that time without further delay. This should not affect the progress of the "enviro-tracker" device's estimated delivery date.

We apologize for any inconvenience. For anyone who needed units in September, please contact us and let us know if this will be a problem. We could potentially send you the lower-performance RD01 units. We hope to retain your business and work together to build a revolutionary new product.

-Team TZOA
www.tzoa.com
info [at] mytzoa.com
San Francisco → Vancouver

New TZOA Comparison Data: David and Goliath

Research Device & New Correlation Data:

This post is in reference to our current Indiegogo campaign. Specifically the last reward tier perk for our "Evaluation Pack" 3x TZOA Research Devices.

6 months ago we had lots of great feedback saying that we needed comparison data against more expensive devices. It’s finally here! This is a test of our TZOA research device (the same sensor that goes into the Enviro-Tracker) against a $3000+ TSI DustTrak DRX.

We saw a R-squared value (correlation) of .7558, which is a great start for us.

This is a granular look at one of the peak events, along with a Dylos as an additional reference point.

How we tested:

In order to do these tests we had to build an enclosed chamber where we could control the environment across multiple sensors. A detailed guide is here:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/quality/legislation/pdf/equivalence.pdf

There is a HEPA filter and a fan (on the right) in order to purify the air inside of the chamber. Conversely, there is synthetic particles known as “Arizona Test Dust” that we aerosolized into the chamber, randomly generated at different concentrations and intervals.

One of the things we need to get better results is building an atomizer to better disperse the particles across all of the sensors.

Moving forward:

Our next step is collecting more data in our test-chamber, and distributing sensors to other organizations to do 3rd party testing in their test-chambers. Real field environmental testing is important to do under a range of different conditions.

Deployment:

We are deploying 10 sensors to India with Michael Brauer, the Professor of Public Health at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Aaron Birch. They will be studying the effects of air pollution in small huts where wood, dung, and garbage is burned to cook food, and life spans are shortened due to cardiac and respiratory complications. The conditions in India are high pollution concentrations and high humidity. We can compensate for the effects of humidity and temperature on the particles and electronics via the onboard sensors.

Capabilities:

TZOA allows data collection at a tenth of the cost and size of the sensors currently being used. The implication of this is that a large amount of sensors can be purchased and distributed, resulting in higher-resolution studies. Novel studies become possible due to the ‘wearable’ form factor; we can now facilitate large scale personal exposure testing (in this case, proximity of people to the fire is important). Leaving $3000 sensors with randomly chosen individuals in a developing country can also be a barrier.

The research devices we are selling now for September shipment is intended to be 20% smaller than the current prototypes and we will have optional attachment loops for threading a belt or satchel through. Of course, this won’t compare to the portability or our consumer device.

Follow-up:

Please let us know if you have any questions. We are working hard to bring you accurate low-cost particulate air quality sensing and what we need from you is a partnership where data can be collected across various documented studies against reference sensors. This way we can figure out where we perform the best and what needs improvement.

The beautiful thing about our company and our sensor, compared to the off-the-shelf sensors currently available from Asia, is that we have full control over the hardware, software, and firmware. Everyone who works together with us now will be helping share our final product and our next products.

Who wants a go-to choice for low-cost particulate sensing? Let’s make it happen. Contribute now and please share with your networks. Indiegogo has the ability to track your referrals, 3 successful referrals will get you an extra research edition device with your purchase.

Our campaign page can be found here.

More details soon. #seetheair

TZOA at Wearable World Congress 2015

Wearable World Congress Event 

We launched our campaign at #WWC15 San Francisco, one of the biggest Wearable Technology events in America. We were humbled to meet some of the great speakers including Eric, founder of Pebble and Slava, the founder of Indiegogo. 

Narrative was kind enough to give us a Narrative Clip Wearable Camera

Narrative was kind enough to give us a Narrative Clip Wearable Camera

This 2 day event just wrapped up this afternoon. While there, we were exhibiting the new TZOA Enviro-Tracker and talking to a lot of interesting people. We debuted the TZOA video for the first time on the main stage and did demos of our research device and connected smartphone app. 

Point of View at our booth

Point of View at our booth

Kevin spoke on stage on the IoT for Cities panel with Jay Nath, the CIO of San Francisco; James Benson, the GM of Global Marketing at GE Lighting; and moderator Stephanie Foster. 

We spoke about what a partnership between San Francisco, GE, and TZOA would look like in order to distribute our air quality sensors across the city, installed into GE's new smart LED city-light nodes. 

The event was a great experience. We've come out with more ways to distribute TZOA across cities, new TZOA ambassadors/users, and lots of new ideas spun out of lively conversations.

debuting our video for the first time

debuting our video for the first time

Thanks for everyone who was part of the event and to Wearable World for making it happen!

-Team TZOA

Our Launch on Indiegogo Tonight

TZOA’s new crowdfunding campaign is launching on Indiegogo just past midnight tonight (12:30am PST on Tuesday, May 19th 2015). This link will go live as soon as we launch the campaign tonight! 

 TZOA originally launched a Kickstarter campaign on November 18th 2014. Unfortunately we didn’t meet our goal; however, thanks to you - we learned a lot!

 We really appreciate all of the comments, private messages, and everyone who participated in our post-campaign survey. It’s now 6 months later and we’ve used all of these learnings to improve the TZOA product and build a stronger campaign. We can’t wait to show it off! 

 3 months ago we moved to San Francisco as part of the Wearable World Labs accelerator where we were introduced to the staff at Indiegogo. We quickly realized their crowdfunding platform would be a great fit for our new direction of a social impact campaign

 “What we’re really doing is selling a movement for clean air that is powered by the TZOA Enviro-Tracker.” - Kevin R. Hart, Co-Founder of TZOA.

 Indiegogo believed in our vision; they’ve provided us with their full support. This includes Alana Jesse, our campaign manager/strategist, who we meet with at their offices several times a week. We’re working with many new features and analytics that will help us greatly, and an API so that we can continue selling our product after this campaign is over. 

 From Alana to Ben, to Steve, and the digital marketing team, we have all of the resources we need to make this a successful campaign. Now all we need is you. Let’s #seetheair together! 

Team TZOA 
info[at]mytzoa.com

TZOA Joins Wearable World Labs

TZOA has joined Wearable World: the premiere wearable tech & IOT business accelerator in San Francisco

We are excited to announce our acceptance into the San Francisco based Wearable World Labs Accelerator. WWLabs is the first accelerator of its kind to focus on wearable technologies and the Internet of Thing (IOT) connected devices.

What if TZOA knew when you were cooking, and automatically turned on your hood fan? Imagine if your whole HVAC system, air purifiers, and ventilation worked in concert to improve your health via the data collected by TZOA.  

Our partnership with Wearable World Labs will allow us to explore these possibilities and make TZOA a better product for you. We think TZOA should not only visualize data, but also provide real actionable advice, and take actions on your behalf to keep you healthy. 

We've joined the WWLabs' self-described family, and family is forever; however a few of us are heading down to San Francisco immediately for the 3 month accelerator program. This is an opportunity to work with manufacturing veterans; experts who have built other wearable devices such as the Grush; and crowdfunding experts who have launched campaigns like Skully.

The WWLabs program just moved locations into the Innovation Hangar in San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts. The CEO of TZOA, Kevin R. Hart, will be traveling to San Francisco for several months while the engineers in Vancouver, Canada continue to refine the TZOA product and prepare for our release. 

If you are in the bay area please feel free to reach out to us! If you know of any companies, groups or individuals in San Francisco that might benefit from meeting with the TZOA team, we would love to chat. 

TZOA is making a lot of progress and working towards a huge launch this spring, bigger and better than ever. We're glad that you're part of it! 

Cheers, 
-Kevin R. Hart, Team TZOA 
info [at] mytzoa [dot] com

TZOA at CES

TZOA attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this year from January 6th-9th. We had a booth located in ‘Eureka Park’ which was the start-up section based inside the Sands Expo Centre. We arrived a day early to set up and this is what we were greeted with:

              Entrance to the centre. You're seeing approximately 5% of the total space

              Entrance to the centre. You're seeing approximately 5% of the total space

We found our booth and began setting up our displays:

Video of the engraving in the corner found here

Video of the engraving in the corner found here

 

The booth came together quickly and below is a photo of our first day in action

From left to right: Alim (Operations), Afshin (Product Designer), Kevin (CEO/Founder)

From left to right: Alim (Operations), Afshin (Product Designer), Kevin (CEO/Founder)

We had a wonderful time at the Consumer Electronic Show. We met many people, including customers, ambassadors, kickstarter backers, press, industry leaders and many more. It was amazing to meet some people in person after having spent many months and weeks conversing online. 

The TZOA booth was a hit, and we conducted several interviews at the booth itself. Below is a candid shot of Kevin being interviewed for EMSNowTV.

There were several other articles and interviews including a LiveScience article listing us as one of the "Coolest Eco-Friendly Technologies at CES" and an interview done by CES International, listing us as part of the "sensor highlights".

The primary purpose for TZOA being at CES was to grow the brand, meet new contacts and form partnerships that align with our vision of collecting granular environmental data. We were promoting a Kickstarter launch around April time, with shipment near the end of the year, and an early bird price point of $99 USD for the TZOA enviro-tracker. 

We consider the trip a fantastic success and we will have more news coming soon!

 

-Alim Jaffer, Team TZOA. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Examples of Measuring Air Quality: Part 1

What will I find when I measure air quality?

A lot of people have asked us this question. Being from Vancouver, Canada - we live in one of the greenest and cleanest cities in the world. How could I possibly benefit from an air quality monitor?

This series of blog posts will depict things that we found in our houses and around town, just like you would. Recently we walked around with a well known, very expensive, particulate matter monitor. Detecting particles in the air is what Tzoa does - and these particles have the greatest global environmental effect on human health, even being classified as carcinogenic by the W.H.O.

Particulate Matter is the top metric for air quality levels in highly polluted cities like Beijing and Delhi. We typically think about air quality as a city-wide issue, or a global issue, but we don't normally recognize it as the personal issue that it is. When we do, we usually make the connection through the lens of caring for our children or our next generations, but not ourselves.
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Part 1: Cooking Breakfast
Studies show that we spend roughly 90% of our time indoors. Wow! We really need to get out more often. That said, Our households are vulnerable to collecting dust and emitting pollution, which can be very hazardous to our health. Your air quality can contribute to loss in productivity, focus, energy - all the way up to headaches, cardiac and respiratory problems. For this blog post - we recorded someone cooking breakfast like they normally would.

We will use micrograms instead of milligrams (x100) in this post for PM10 levels, and try to use layman terms that will appear in our app.
Scenario:
The air quality levels started off around 30. Shortly after frying our breakfast the levels more than doubled to 67, and doubled again to 115. The readings hit a peak of over 160 which is a 500%+ increase from where we had started. These are levels typically seen in polluted cities across India and China, not the highest levels they encounter by a long-shot, but definitely high. 
Conclusion:
What was most surprising about this experience is not how high the levels get - but how long they take to come back down - and how wide spread the effects are throughout the house. These levels were exactly the same far off into a partially segregated dining room.
The readings took 3-4 hours to get back to the levels we started recording at shortly after cooking, and probably would have taken a few more hours to come back down to 30 (we lost patience and this device is VERY loud).

Why care?
Cooking is something we do everyday, sometimes multiple times a day. Knowing that we can control air pollution levels for ourselves and our family is very important to our long-term health and short-term decision making. A recent study showed that Pregnant Women Exposed To Air Pollution Have Up To Double The Risk Of Having An Autistic Child - this is just one powerful example of these effects.

What can we do in this situation?
Using a hoodfan while cooking is imperative in this scenario. We actually did turn the hoodfan on half way through cooking, but it was both too late and the hoodfan had little effect because it is 25 years old and has only been cleaned once (metal-type). We tested the outdoor air before and after and it was sitting at a sparkling clean 8 to 10 micrograms. Opening the windows and ventilating/diluting the air pollution would have been a very compelling option in this instance. Having this data is crucial, and TZOA will show not only this data, but also provide these recommendations & notifications to your smartphone.

This is citizen science meets health/wellness; fashion meets environmental empowerment - all in one tiny device. Just imagine all of the interesting things we will find using TZOA - not to mention that we do much more than air quality.
We hope you are as excited as we are, and we look forward to bringing you part 2 of this blog series!
-Kevin R. Hart, Team Tzoa

GHG, CHN, & USA

This Just In!
China and the United States have agreed to reductions of their greenhouse gases by 2025, this is good news! While more could be done, at least there is a target to hit. Unfortunately in Canada, we are failing to meet our 2020 targets, and Environment Canada has not followed step, as would be expected, with the commitments the U.S. is making in regard to GHG reductions.


We sincerely hope that Tzoa will help people understand the connection we have with our environment, and how precious our air and environment really is.

Technology and Nature : A Happy Marriage

Dr. Jane Goodall. Image by Stuart Clarke Photography.

Dr. Jane Goodall. Image by Stuart Clarke Photography.

Technology used to be seen in opposition to nature, but not anymore. Increasingly, we are seeing the ways in which technological advances in the areas of telecommunications, solar power and GPS can help the environment. Earlier this year, the inimitable Jane Goodall wrote about the ways in which technology can be, and is currently being, used to help in environmental protection and monitoring efforts.

Environmental monitoring has been radically transformed through technological advances made during Goodall’s eighty years. The
United Nations Environment Programme uses Google Earth and Google Maps to help determine some of the challenges facing our earth today, including our changing climate and how best to protect the earth.

How are ordinary people able to contribute to saving the earth through technology?

Here are a few highlights of ways in which individuals and communities have the ability to help!

Polar Bears International uses Google Maps API to track bears. Image copyright Kt Miller, Polar Bears International.

Polar Bears International uses Google Maps API to track bears.
Image copyright Kt Miller, Polar Bears International.

  1. Save time, money and trees - Organizations such as Minnesota-based Carver County Water Management Organization are using iPads to record information about water samples, and let their citizens know, real-time, whether the water is good to drink! Other examples of using new technologies to improve scientific research include tracking polar bears using Google Maps API.

  2. Work in your PJs -  Technologies such as Skype or FaceTime have, in many ways, eliminated the need for a conventional boardroom. Telecommuting has some real advantages for work-life balance, and also for the reduction of our daily carbon footprint! 

    This article from Forbes describes the merits of working from home, which include a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with hour-long commutes to and from the office. A study by Global Workplace Analytics notes that “half-time telecommuting could reduce carbon emissions by over 51 million metric tons a year — the equivalent of taking all of greater New York’s commuters off the road” (Kotkin 2013).
     
  3. Track your environment - Clad Innovations is working on a wearable piece of technology that will provide numerous benefits to human and environmental health. Users will enjoy being able to:

    1. Participate in tracking their own daily exposures to particulate matter in their homes, cars or bike routes.

    2. Stay informed about ways to reduce their exposure by greening their daily commute, using greener household cleaners, or using products such as HEPA vacuum cleaners to reduce air particulate matter in their homes!

    3. Be inspired to get involved in community-driven initiatives to help protect the quality of the air we breathe. Good air quality is paramount to human health - Tzoa wearers will enjoy the ability to monitor the quality of the air that they and those around them are breathing!

    4. Raise awareness about air quality issues in remote areas or industrial zones! By wearing their air quality monitor, Clad users will be able to draw attention to air quality issues that need solving, for our health and the health of our environment.

Tech is at the forefront of tracking changes in our natural environment - as well as coming up with new and creative ways to cut down on fuel usage and reduce our exposure to airborne pollutants!

How else is tech changing our relationship to our environment? Leave us a comment below.

Rallying together as one: The People’s Climate March about community-building and innovative solutions to our climate’s energy needs

Sign from "People's Climate March", Vancouver BC.

Sign from "People's Climate March", Vancouver BC.

We live in a time of incredible possibility. While the world is realizing some of the challenges of relying on fossil fuels for our energy needs, this realization is also driving global innovation. Exploring creative solutions to dealing with our changing climate has become a major point of mobilization and community organizing. People are starting to come together to share ways  to stand up for our planet and take a fresh look at our approaches to energy supplies.

Sunday, September 21, was a day for action: the “People’s Climate March” was held in cities across the globe, including New York, Vancouver and Montreal. These events provided opportunities to gather, express concerns over current challenges facing our environment, and speak about alternative ways to address our present and future energy needs.

At the Vancouver event, speakers invited the large, multigenerational audience to participate in practical, direct actions. Frustration over back-door decisions that affect our environment was tempered by practical suggestions such as choosing and supporting political candidates who share these concerns, or signing up to receive mailing lists that inform the community of local issues and events.

A sign from "People's Climate March", Vancouver BC.

A sign from "People's Climate March", Vancouver BC.

One sign read, “Clean Tech is the Future”, while another (pictured, R), read “Green Jobs and Renewable Energy are Our Future”, expressing the need for businesses to create innovative, green products that improve our lives while  preserving the environment.

 

At the climate march, I was reminded that in addition to acting at the community level, we can also promote healthy living by taking small, direct actions that will impact our daily lives - on a personal and familial level.

By taking small steps, such as carpooling, taking transit or cycling to work, we can measurably reduce the use of fossil fuels in our daily lives.

Here are some specific examples of steps we can take to ensure that we are living well, living green and supporting ourselves and our planet:

  1. Plant a vegetable garden. Whether you are gardening in your backyard, on your balcony, or in a community garden, having a garden is a very powerful thing. In addition to growing nutritious, local, fresh produce (not to mention reducing your grocery bill, the carbon footprint of your dinner and food waste!), gardening deepens our connection to the food we eat and how it is produced. Gardening can instill deep respect for each bite of food we take.

  2. Drive less. Take advantage of your city’s bike lanes, public transit and ride-sharing co-ops to reduce your daily environmental footprint and improve the air quality where you live, work and play.

  3. Make the most of sunny days. Solar chargers, such as these ones, make thoughtful gifts, and also reduce the amount of energy required to power up your smart phone.

  4. Put your money where your mouth is. By investing in green technology and innovative products, rather than investing your hard-earned money in the “fossilized” fossil fuel industry, you will be contributing to the success of projects designed to reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources and promote healthy lifestyles.

At Clad, we are committed to being a part of the growing movement of innovative companies that are finding creative solutions to the environmental challenges our world faces today.

How are you part of the green shift? We invite you to comment below, and to share some of the ways that you, your family or your community are already demonstrating your commitment to protecting the water sources and  air quality in your community.

A breath of fresh air: keeping kids healthy by reducing airborne pollutants

Children are our greatest gift. From their first breath, parents do our best to keep them happy, healthy, safe and nourished. Many parents choose to buy organic produce to avoid exposing their children to harmful pesticides and chemical residues in their food. But what can we do to reduce children's exposure to airborne pollutants?

The air we breathe can have a major impact on our respiratory and overall health. Kids are more at risk from exposure to pollutants because their bodies are still growing, they breathe at a faster rate than adults and are often mouth breathers (http://www.halton.ca/cms/One.aspx?pageId=13720#Q2). Exposure to higher concentrations of pollutants is linked to slowed development and growth of children's lungs (http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/chs/chsfact.pdf) – and this pollution exists inside the home, as well as from outdoor sources such as car exhaust.

So what are some ways we can ensure that our children breathe the purest air possible?

1) Clean up!

Get your children involved in your household chores, and get cleaning! Use a HEPA (High efficiency particulate air) vacuum cleaner with disposable bags, and also use microfiber cloths for surface dust removal. (Thanks to GreenGuard.com for this great advice – follow this link see their complete list of Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality).

Other must-dos around the house are:

  • wash bedding one time per week in a scent-free detergent to avoid exposure to dust mites and other allergens

  • ensure that radiators and fan vents are all kept clean and free of dust

Be sure to pick cleaners that are free of harsh chemicals or strong scents!

2) Get growing!

Houseplants do more than you think! Easy-to-grow plants such as aloe, spider plants and chrysanthemums are all noteworthy for their ability to eliminate common household toxins, including benzene and formaldehyde. (Click here for the whole list of “15 houseplants for improving indoor air quality”). So what are you waiting for? Take the kids to an evening trip to the garden store and “green” the rooms around your home.

3) Plan ahead!

A bit of planning ahead can help you choose parks, playgrounds and routes to school that are least polluted! If your family rides bikes to school in the mornings, you can use tools such as Google Maps to determine which routes are dedicated bikeways – this can reduce your exposure to air pollution during your commute.

4) Inform yourself!

Whether you are wondering about how the air quality in your play room stacks up, or about the sun exposure and air quality at your child's weekly soccer practice, Clad is here to help! Clad is developing a portable, wearable tool for tracking the quality of the air around you. Learn about the current quality of air in your home, then implement some of the advice in this article – your children's growing lungs will thank you!

 

CES 2015 Vegas

The founders of Clad will be attending the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 in Las Vegas! AND we will have a booth (details to be announced).

This will be a great opportunity to get our name out there, and meet some amazing people and companies.

If you will be at CES 2015, please let us know, we would love to meet up!
http://www.cesweb.org/

Air Sensors 2014

The Clad Equipment founders will be flying from their homes in Canada- to North Carolina for the EPA event "Air Sensors 2014". The event focuses on low-cost air quality sensors and includes workshops, speakers, and networking. We hope to meet an assortment of people; grasp a better concept of the Air Quality market, and discover some other projects being worked on in this space.

If you are attending the event, please let us know, we would love to meet up.

Event details:
https://sites.google.com/site/airsensors2014/home

Particulate Matter Matters

Air. If you are reading this on planet earth, then you are surrounded by it. Air is synonymous with the words ‘invisible’ ‘nitrogen’ and ‘oxygen’, but that isn’t the whole picture. If you are outdoors, you can be sure there are tiny physical particles in the air you are breathing. They are many times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, and unseen by the naked eye. These particles are known as particulate matter, or PM.

Don’t believe it? It’s easy to understand when you think about visible PM; a cloud of dust, or smoke from a campfire for example. How come we can see those? These are examples of high concentrations of PM, and there are often some larger more visible particles mixed in. Now think about these particles rising up and dispersing in all different direction until they are invisible again. The larger these particles are, the quicker they drop to the earth; conversely, the smaller the particles are, the slower they fall. If the particles are small enough, they will actually float in the air for hours. Have you ever seen a cotton fiber floating around your house? A simple wave of your hand will send it shooting up higher and higher into the air. While outdoors, these particles can be blown for miles on gusts of wind.


So why does Particulate Matter matter? Unfortunately the smaller these floating particles are, the worse they are for human health. In fact, Particulate Matter affects more people than any other pollutant*. Particles that are smaller than 10 micrometers (PM10) in size can enter your nose and make it down your airway, into your lungs. These are also known as ‘inhalable particles’. Anything larger will get trapped trying to find its way down, or get caught by nasal hairs (a good reason to breathe through your nose rather than your mouth).

You may have heard of a type of air pollution called PM2.5. This is particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers in size or smaller, nicknamed ‘respirable particles’. Why is there so much focus on it? Not only does PM2.5 have a much better chance of reaching the lungs, but it also on average consists of more harmful particles. Yes, the type of particle matters too, it could even be coated by toxins. 

So what types of particles make up PM? The majority consists of sulfate, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, mineral dust and water. Black Carbon is an aspect of PM that is often talked about because of its affect on humans. It comes from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels and biomass. One important-to-note source of Black Carbon comes from Diesel Engines, commonly found in our vehicles. Wood-burning stoves, open-burning and campfires have become controversial topics over the last few years.

So what’s the big deal, how does this affect you, personally? In March 2014, The World Health Organization released some shocking statistics, which showed that they had grossly underestimated the amount of deaths and pre-mature deaths caused as a result of this Air Pollution. In 2012, it was estimated that 7 million people died from ischaemic heart disease, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute lower respiratory infections, and lung cancer. Yes, even lung cancer.

“A 2013 assessment by WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that outdoor air pollution is carcinogenic to humans, with the particulate matter component of air pollution most closely associated with increased cancer incidence, especially cancer of the lung.”

There are some 3 billion people who cook and heat their homes with biomass fuels and coal, are you one of them? Here is one more reason why Particulate Matter matters: reducing PM would also reduce short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon particles, therefore reducing the effects of climate change. It’s time to think differently about the air we breathe.


Source*
World Health Organization
www.who.int