Wynd has a new home air purifier that can clean the air in a small home in under 30 minutes and can be paired with a machine learning powered air quality monitor to show you what’s in the air around you. I asked Ray Wu, founder and CEO of Wynd, a bunch of questions about it all.
When I last interviewed Ray, we discussed their personal, smart air purifier and air monitor, along with lessons they’d learnt from building and shipping a smart device. They’re a talented team and I know from experience that their last purifier and air quality sensor worked quite well. We’ve travelled all around with the purifier and it’s helped clean the air in many hotels we’ve visited! That device, Ray says, weighed less than a pound and was no taller than a water bottle (I can definitely vouch for that!). They launched that one on Kickstarter successfully 2 years ago and have since shipped to over 80 countries. Now they’re back on Kickstarter with the Wynd Halo and Home Purifier!
While Wynd’s air purifier worked wonders when travelling around, Ray says that customers really also wanted a way to clean larger spaces:
“We knew from talking to customers though that many also wanted air quality monitoring and cleaning for large spaces, such as an entire home. As a result, we spent two years developing a complete system to monitor and proactively maintain a healthy environment for the whole house. Wynd Halo monitors, alerts, provides suggestions, and can actively control devices in the home for improved health.”
“Its companion product, the Wynd Home Purifier, is powerful enough to clean a 1,200 square foot home in under 30 minutes.” — Ray Wu, Wynd founder and CEO
That’s a space even bigger than my small home I’m moving into shortly — being able to clean the air of my whole home from allergens and all sorts of things in less than 30 minutes would be very handy.
But… how does it work?
Ray says that it’s able to accomplish that because it uses two-times the filter surface area as most other purifiers, meaning twice the air flow for fast cleaning.
It also features a Smart Scheduler that saves energy, reduces noise when you’re there, and cleans only as needed.
I did discover a secret though:
“The well-kept secret with air purifiers is that they’re actually not that complicated – the most important elements are a good filter and a powerful fan to clean the air quickly.” — Ray Wu, Wynd founder and CEO
“In our experience, you shouldn’t need to spend a lot of money to get a really good air purifier, and these devices don’t need a ton of frills to work really well. There’s quite a lot of marketing-driven pseudoscience (ionization for example) out there in the purifier landscape which doesn’t actually work… We took a different route and kept the design very minimal, easy to use, and focused on the core modules of moving air across a high-grade HEPA filter with activated charcoal to make your air clean. As a result the Wynd Home Purifier cleans faster than any other purifier under $500 and it’s priced for everyone.”
The tech that most fascinates me though, is the Wynd Halo — their new air quality monitor that can tell you a whole lot of information about the air around you.
“Wynd Halo is designed to be the smartest and most comprehensive air quality monitor available.”— Ray Wu, Wynd founder and CEO
This chart from their Kickstarter campaign alone gets me crazy excited:
For those who already own a Wynd air purifier, I did ask and apparently, yes — The new Wynd Halo and the existing portable Wynd air purifier do indeed communicate!
The Wynd Halo introduces a new technology from their team called “Air ID” which leverages “raw sensor data and contextual information from the cloud to identify the actual composition of your air”. As you can see in the table above, it is able to determine whether there’s pollen, dander, smog, smoke, and more in your environment. It’s also super pretty:
There are a whole bunch of other air monitors around, however Ray is confident that their device is the better choice for consumers:
“There are some other monitors available for consumers today, but they are limited in functionality, pricey, and not able to actively make your environment better.”
“Wynd Halo measures 10 different health and comfort metrics of your environment (vs. than the 2-3 other monitors measure), costs less than $100 in our current Kickstarter (vs. $200 for others), and is designed with solutions in mind.” — Ray Wu, Wynd founder and CEO
A lot of readers of Dev Diner are on the lookout for APIs and ways they can hook into things themselves. Wynd are preparing APIs for developers to hook into. Ray says,
“Outside of formal integrations with platforms such as Alexa, we definitely are developing APIs to people can program their own automation routines. There are many in our community who are looking to DIY things in their home so we want to provide them that opportunity.”
As always with a Dev Diner interview, I’m curious to hear what parts of the process were a challenge from a technical perspective. Ray says there were plenty but the two biggest ones — engineering Air ID and their IoT integration.
“Air ID pairs raw sensor data with contextual information from the cloud (like location, time, season, weather, pollution stations, and more), and via machine learning computes the actual composition of your air. To get it right a lot of testing is needed to refine the algorithm.”
“The IoT integration problem is also challenging because we have to make sure the Halo and Home Purifier can integrate not just with each other, but with hundreds of other IoT products out there from ecosystems such as Alexa, Nest, HomeKit, and more.”
I was also curious to know — what learnings from the previous Wynd products was able to be used in the new ones? Ray said,
“We at Wynd want to enable healthy environments for families wherever they are. To do that our product philosophy is to make devices that monitor and devices that clean as needed. These devices then leverage software to generate useful insights, add convenience, and automate. The first Wynd product exhibited all of these characteristics, and this architecture extends to the Wynd Halo + Home Purifier.”
In particular, they had learnings from both the technology side, and the design side of things.
They were able to improve their sensors using their prior experience, but also were able to work off the feedback from customers to improve how they inform people about their environment:
“On the technology side, we leveraged our experience in developing our own sensors to make the sensors in the Halo more accurate, less power hungry, and capable of working together to yield even more awareness. The first Wynd sensor was designed into the Wynd Air Quality Tracker, which was and still is the smallest and most accurate consumer air quality sensor. The tracker measured particulates, but we also learned that people want to understand the levels of chemicals, carbon dioxide, and more in their environment. The Wynd Halo features a new and improved version of our particulate sensor, as well as many other sensors that work together to inform you of what’s going on in your environment.”
“For the Wynd Home Purifier, our experience in air flow and filtration was useful to improve how to move air quickly around a large space. In addition, we leveraged our learnings in automation to design features like the Smart Scheduler, which automates the Purifier without you having to do anything. For example, it’ll turn on to max right before you normally get home so you can come home to a clean environment, all the while saving energy, reducing perceptible noise, and more.”
Their industrial designer continued to work his magic on this version of the Wynd products, with help from a team of 7 MIT grads:
“On the design side, we have always kept a simple and intuitive design aesthetic. Our team has 7 graduates from MIT, but we want to keep technology accessible. Mike Nuttall, our industrial designer and the co-founder of IDEO, continues to provide his leadership there.”
Ray says there’s a whole lot more to come in this space,
“Wynd Halo is designed to be the health and comfort hub for your home, and so be on the lookout for other products that work with it to proactively maintain a good environment there. The Wynd Home Purifier is the beginning of solutions that can surround the Halo!”
A very big thank you to Ray Wu for taking the time to answer my questions and to the Wynd team for putting together another seriously cool product! I wasn’t able to finish this article quite as quickly as intended because I couldn’t restrain myself from going and backing a Wynd Halo and Home Purifier on Kickstarter while putting it together. Head over to Kickstarter if this sort of product sparks your interest too!
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