May 04, 2016

Author: Cate Cadell

As of Wednesday, the Origins Laser Egg hit the shelves in 29 Apple stores across China, and will be available online from the 24th. The 499 yuan (about $76 USD ) air monitor allow users in congested cities to measure air pollution and take protective measures.

When Origins co-founder Liam Bates decided to start building air quality monitors two years ago there was no color code warning and only a handful of high-priced air purifiers on the market.

He had been visiting China since he was in high school in 2004, but it wasn’t until his girlfriend’s childhood asthma was reignited on a visit in Beijing that he realized how serious the pollution problem was.

“We went to a park in Beijing and we climbed to the top of a hill. We couldn’t see because it was so polluted. She was having a super hard time breathing.”

Looking for a solution, he set out to buy an air purifier. “At the time I said, If I am going to spend this much money I want to know how it works…I thought, this is silly. This shouldn’t cost so much, and I don’t even know how if it works.” He called his partner Ken Ying and started work on the company the next day.

“We had no money and we knew nothing about air purifiers at the time” he says.

Two years later Origins now sells both air purifiers and air quality monitors. According to Liam, the monitors, which are popular among expats, caught the attention of China’s Apple operations when staff started to bring them to work. “It’s one of those thing you buy for your home but you invariably end up taking it to your office,” he says.

The Laser Egg features a small fan that pushes air past a laser, the laser refracts off minute particles in the air and uses an algorithm to calculate the air’s AQI, an index measuring air pollution. Origin’s accompanying app Breathing Space by Origins allows users to track the Egg’s readings and compare them to outdoor measurements.[…]