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Headaches, chest congestion, coughs and fatigue could be signs of bad air

Greg GazinFor many, being couped up indoors during the pandemic brought home the importance of air quality. And as the mercury plummets and we once again find ourselves spending a significant amount of time in enclosed spaces, we are often left wondering, “Am I actually breathing in clean air?”

Headaches, chest congestion, coughs and fatigue, amongst other symptoms, could be signs of bad air.

To “see” what’s floating in the air, climate-tech company Sensibo launched a new product – Sensibo Elements – Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor. It’s a small and sleek gadget with a companion app designed to monitor select harmful contaminants and alert you so you can take action.

It monitors pollutants such as carbon dioxide (CO2), Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs) – a pool of various pollutants – PM2.5 – tiny particles that can get into our lungs – and ethanol. It can also track temperature and humidity and then calculates a total overall air-quality score in real-time using its own algorithms.

The Sensibo Elements air quality tester is capable of tracking the following airborne pollutants:
CO₂ can induce headaches, fatigue and loss of focus.

Dust or PM2.5 can cause eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, shortness of breath, coughing and sneezing.
Found in many household cleaners, exposure can result in nausea, dizziness, fatigue, headaches and irritation.
Too much exposure can induce coughing, shortness of breath, headaches, drowsiness and nausea.
Extreme high or low temperatures can be harmful to children, elders, pets and plants.

Like temperature, high humidity can be extremely uncomfortable and, if left unchecked, can result in mould growth.

Air Quality
Get a live aggregate air quality reading – the Elements calculates a total air quality score based on several factors so you can understand your air’s overall quality.
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There are no instructions in the box, but it’s easy to set up. Download the iOS or Android app or use the web. Select add a new device. You’ll then be guided through the process of plugging in the device with the included USB-C cable and charger, scanning the QR code on the back of the device or keying in the QR number. Instructions follow. You can use the same app to set up different locations if you have multiple devices.

Sensibo Elements is cleverly designed to sit vertically. It comes with a small removable lightweight plastic frame that doubles as a stand, so you can keep it on your desk or remove it and mount it on a wall. The vertical orientation and a tilt adjustment allow the sensors to better sample the air for a more accurate reading. A colour light at the front will glow green or red to indicate the air quality. This light can also be turned off.

Triggering a high-level alert will cause the app to send an alert to your phone and offer a tip. For example, a high TVOC reading will appear as a text message on your phone with a suggestion to open a window to circulate some air. I guess that’s fine as long as it’s not winter here in Canada.

You can keep tabs on your air quality through the app dashboard. It gives you individual readings for each element it monitors and the total Air Quality score. You can also view detailed pollution graphs of each element by hour and day to see changes over time. Weekly and monthly stats require a Sensibo Plus premium subscription.

Sensibo Elements gives additional automation capabilities if you’ve already invested in the Sensibo ecosystem through an air purification system or AC controller. When Elements triggers an air quality alert, utilizing Sensibo’s patented PureBoost technology, you can have your air purifier turn on its fan or signal your Sensibo AC controller to turn on your AC fan so you can automatically circulate more air.

Toxic air is a real thing in our homes and not just something we see coming out of smoke stacks. We’re exposed to it regularly – particularly from dust and pollen or building materials, cleaning products and even some of the air freshers we spray and candles we burn. So, beyond the obvious when we can smell something, having a device like Sensibo Elements to help us know when we’re at risk from bad air is just sensible.

Overall, Elements is a neat little device which can sense some of the more common pollutants and immediately alert you. The detection of ethanol (which my home seems to have) is an added bonus which I have yet to see on other air quality monitors.

Sensibo Elements measures 115mm long x 115mm wide x 29 mm high. (147 x 130 x 65 mm with stand) It does not require a hub but does require close proximity to an electrical plug.

While I can appreciate the need for an additional revenue stream, I think that given the total retail cost of the unit and the fact that not everyone looks at their devices every single day, charging a premium for all data beyond a day is a bit of a stretch. Maybe charging more for beyond a month might be more in line.

Sensibo Elements comes with a desktop stand and power adapter. It retails for US$320 ($435), but it’s currently offered at an introductory/holiday price of US$170 ($235). They’re hoping that, with high demand, they’ll be able to keep the price there.

Premium subscriptions are $6.49 per month or $3.33 per month if billed annually. As a bonus, yearly subscribers also get a two-year extended warranty. However, all data is now open to anyone using the app. Weekly and monthly statistics no longer require a premium subscription.

You can order one directly from

Greg Gazin, also known as the Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg, is a syndicated veteran tech columnist, communication, leadership and technology speaker, facilitator, blogger, podcaster and author. 

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