01 Apr 2016 13:25 IST

Making cleaner air affordable the DIY way

Social innovation firm selling Smart Air device to eliminate small particulates

If you are living in Delhi, you are already deprived of clean air, and may be ready to pay a hefty price to get lungfuls of this precious resource. But how much should clean air cost? Most will say it should be free; but the most affordable tag on it now is ₹3,400.

Social innovation firm Smart Air is selling affordable DIY (do-it-yourself) air-purifiers that clean indoor air as well as any expensive air-purifier available in Indian market in the ₹16,000-30,000 price range.

The company aims to reduce the cost further to ₹2,000.

The Smart Air device is essentially a DIY kit that comes with a fan and one HEPA filter, with a pre-filter and an elastic strap.

All you need to do is strap the HEPA filter to the fan, and the device is ready to use. It eliminates PM 2.5 and PM 10 particles from the air. This is the very small and small particulate matter that can be very harmful once inside the body.

Smart Air was founded in China two years ago by a US-based researcher, Thomas Talhelm, during the much talked about Beijing Airpocalypse, and sold thousands of devices within a short period of time. Talhelm recently joined University of Chicago’s Booth Business School as Assistant Professor.

The device was launched in India about five months ago.

“I knew India would have a lot of demand for Smart Air, here the air pollution is really bad and there’s wide awareness about the problem too,” says Talhelm.

Delhi, the key market

“Not just the affluent class, but the middle and lower middle class are extremely concerned about the air quality in their homes.”

Jay Kannaiyan, who looks after the India operations of Smart Air, says that almost 60 per cent of the business comes from Delhi.

“The company has shipped over 1,000 purifiers so far, and the number is expected to increase to 10,000 by next year,” he adds.

The air purifiers are sold on company’s official site. “At Amazon and Flipkart, you need to have thousands of devices sitting in your warehouse, and we have had a limited inventory so far, says Kannaiyan.

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