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Brief Published: 10 Jun 2015

Laser Egg: Smart Pollution Monitor

Origins Laser Egg

Beijing-based start-up Origins is launching Laser Egg – a pollution monitor and app that helps users find nearby spaces with better air quality.

The accompanying app maps cafés, restaurants and other small businesses with Laser Eggs installed, and updates their interior air quality in real time – ideal for Chinese urbanites seeking respite from poor air quality. The Laser Egg would enable businesses to prove they had invested in air-purifying systems.

Private users will also be able to compare air quality at home with that outside, thanks to a partnership with China Air Quality Index, one of China's most popular pollution-monitoring apps.

The Laser Egg, which is available for pre-order and ships this month, measures harmful particulate matter using a method called light scattering to precisely measure the size and number of particles in the air. This technology is commonly found in devices that cost between $500 and $10,000, claims founder Liam Bates. However, it comes with the Laser Egg at a modest $65.

The device automatically calibrates to its location to further improve accuracy. For example, Beijing suffers from occasional sandstorms that can create artificially high readings, which would be far more concerning in sandstorm-free Shanghai.

China is a key testing ground for consumer attitudes relating to pollution and environmental concerns. See Urban Defence for more examples of tools for tracking and countering urban pollution.