Being outdoors is fundamental to our wellbeing. The sunshine, with its boost of serotonin, cheers you up. Studies have shown that taking a walk outside could improve short-term memory. We’ve written about how essential being out in nature is to human health. But what’s the point of spending time outdoors if the air you are breathing is dirty? Throughout the years, Hong Kong’s air quality has taken a turn for the worse, air pollution levels across the city are increasing at an alarming rate and most of us are experiencing too many smog-filled mornings and worriedly checking our air pollution app multiple times a day.
An air purifier at home is nice, but what about where we need it most, AKA outside? The negative health effects from breathing in polluted air go beyond a scratchy throat or a lingering cough: think respiratory issues or an increased risk of lung cancer. Former tech investor and MIT-grad Raymond Wu decided it was time to do something about this escalating issue. He and his dream team have created Wynd, an innovative gadget that enables us to have healthy air environments at home or, crucially, on the go.
A portable, personal air purifier the size of a water bottle (and weighs less than a pound!), Wynd is one of the smartest air cleaning devices on the market, with accolades to boot. Not only did it win Time Magazine’s 25 Best Inventions last year, the crowdfunding community jumped at the chance to back the project, blowing right past its $50,000 goal with more than $600,000 pledged on Kickstarter!
The Wynd Purifier works by creating a bubble of clean air in your vicinity, filtering out nasty particles like dust, allergens, and pollution. By absorbing the surrounding air through Wynd’s dynamic, medical-grade air filter, the cone-shaped nozzle can circulate over eight liters of purified air into your personal space. In a car, Wynd can clean over 70 percent of dust fragments in under 10 minutes. In a semi-enclosed stroller, it can reduce fine and course particles by 50 – 70 percent, giving our tiny humans the chance to breathe the air they’re supposed to. The device has an “Auto” setting option, which adjusts the speed of the fan upon sensing the air, or you can manually change the airflow by twisting the top of the nozzle, like turning a volume knob. When turned on, the fan lights up in colors based on air quality index, ranging from blue (good) to purple (hazardous where the entire population should receive health warnings). Depending on the pollution level of your environment, a filter will typically last for three months, not too shabby considering how powerfully this handheld gadget is working for you.
Another decisive feature of Wynd’s ingenuity is the Wynd Air Quality Tracker, a small sensor that can accurately track the particulates floating around you. Located at the bottom of the device, the removable sensor can be clipped to your shirt, purse or gym bag to check the surrounding air quality in real-time. By syncing with the Wynd Purifier at the touch of a button, it can automatically clean the air around you based on your present conditions. To that, one can imagine my horror when orange (which means the air is a little unhealthy, especially for people who are more sensitive to the air quality) began emitting the second I turned on the tracker. “That’s okay, that’s what this is for,” Ray assured me as he pointed to the Wynd Purifier from our Skype session. “Just having data could make you stressed if you don’t have a means to do something about it. So both the Wynd Air Quality Tracker and the Wynd Purifier work hand-in-hand to adjust based on the conditions of where you’re at and pump more air flow if needed.”
The Silicon Valley company has developed two apps to help monitor, clean and create awareness about our environment. With its clean design and easy-to-use interface, the companion Wynd app to the purifier and tracker informs you how used up the filter is and can send an alert when it’s time to order a replacement and the battery life of the sensor tracker. The second app, Air Bubbles, works in tandem with the prior by mapping out the air pollution levels and can send push notifications when the air quality is getting worse.
“We know this can be interpreted as as slightly selfish device because it’s a personal air purifier,” explains Wu. “But our vision for the future is that it’s gathering air quality for everyone. What we want to do is paint a picture about environments at the very micro level – office buildings, hotel lobbies, or public spaces where we can inform people. I think if people knew that certain buildings didn’t do a good job about protecting their citizenry, they’d be inclined to speak up. Right now, nobody knows so we’re trying to help make some social change as well.”
After some time had passed, the once orange glow blasting from the Wynd at my desk is now a solid blue. I’m not going to say how long it took, but I am grateful that the color looks more like the sea than that of the sun. Available in two color options with different accessory options, the Wynd is nothing short of a game-changer. I can’t help but think of Shakespeare as I glance lovingly at my pint-sized powerhouse: “Though she be but little, she is fierce!”
Order your Wynd personal portable air purifier on the company website – USD 199 (approx HKD 1,560).
Images courtesy of Freepik/yanalya (lead) and Wynd