Date
January 6, 2021
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Danish architecture studio 3XN has developed an origami-style smart sensor that tracks indoor air pollution before chirping its warnings.

1 out of 6 European adults reports living in unhealthy homes, a statistic that’s often attributed to poor conditions and bad air quality. A substandard indoor climate can lead to health problems, loss of concentration, chronic fatigue. It can also cause or contribute to the development of infections, lung cancer, and chronic lung diseases like asthma. 

Unfortunately, knowing the importance of air quality is a lot easier than knowing how to maintain it. That is unless you have an AirBird, the new interior gadget and smart sensor that tracks air quality while drawing attention to the negative effects of air pollution.

Why AirBird? To improve air quality while creating a thoughtful and elegant design experience 

With its charming ‘chirp algorithm’, which sounds when CO2 levels surpass a certain threshold, the device aims to gamify monitoring air quality.

AirBird is an origami-style sensor that chirps to warn of air pollution

The minds behind Airbird – GXN, the innovation arm of Danish architecture studio 3XN 

Headquartered in Copenhagen, 3XN Architects also has offices in Stockholm, New York, and Sydney. The abiding philosophy that architecture shapes behaviour guides all of the firm’s work, from the revolutionary design of Danish upper secondary school Ørestad College to award-winning corporate headquarters for clients including Swedbank and Deloitte, residential buildings, and cultural destinations.

The practice was founded by Kim Herforth Nielsen in 1986 in Aarhus, Denmark. In 2007, 3XN established the innovation unit GXN to collect and apply the latest knowledge on behaviour materials and new technologies to its architecture. GXN remains dedicated to ecological and behaviour centric design research, constantly advancing new digital processes and material solutions to create innovative architecture that positively affects people and the world we live in.

Curious to know more about the minds behind AirBird? Don’t miss Architecture shapes behavior – An interview with 3XN.

AirBird - in kitchen
AirBird helps improve air quality while creating a thoughtful and elegant design experience – – Image Credits: AirBird®

Materials & Techniques – LED warnings

Based on a metal foot mount, the AirBird can be easily mounted to a wall or placed on any flat surface like a desk or coffee table. With a series of sound and light warnings, the device draws attention to the negative effects of air pollution within homes or office environments.

A soft glow is designed to give a visual indication of indoor air quality while four light colours indicate rising levels of poor air and a return to normalcy. You can adjust the light intensity to suit your ambiance. Meanwhile, four bird tweet rhymes indicate marked changes to indoor air quality, rising levels of poor air, and a return to normalcy. 

AirBird - on wall
Based on a metal foot mount, the AirBird can be easily mounted to a wall or placed on any flat surface like a desk or coffee table – Image Credits: AirBird®

Style & Aesthetics – An origami take on plumage

Just shy of 10cm in height and 30cm in length, this battery-powered device takes the shape of an origami-style bird. Minimal in detail, the back of the bird is sleek and white, while the belly, which is perforated to let in air, is colored in a sharp shade of yellow. 

AirBird - 3 colors
Minimal in detail, the back of AirBird is sleek and white, while the belly, which is perforated to let in air, is colored in a sharp shade of yellow – Image Credits: AirBird®

The warning canary used in coal mines

The shape and colour of the AirBird are inspired by the bright yellow canaries once used to detect carbon monoxide and other toxic gases before warning humans.

These birds served as an early-warning as they were more sensitive to toxic gases and would become sick before the miners, who would have a chance to escape or put on protective respirators.

AirBird - shape process
The shape and colour of the AirBird are inspired by the bright yellow canaries once used to detect carbon monoxide and other toxic gases before warning humans – Image Credits: AirBird®

Design memento – A collaborative trio of experts 

According to architect and partner Lasse Lind, humans spend 90 percent of their time indoors, a fact that inspired the studio to embark on this project.

Its importance led GXN to collaborate with Danish sensor specialist Leapcraft, whose tech and data analysis helped shape the product, and window manufacturer Velux, whose manufacturing expertise was indispensable. Combining over 6 years of research, the trio of experts developed AirBird.

AirBird - indoors
AirBird is the new interior gadget and smart sensor that tracks air quality – Image Credits: AirBird®

Writer’s Comment – Design that’s equal parts important and desirable

While indoor air quality monitors exist, few are as beautifully designed as the AirBird. True, some may boast more impressive specs but something as important as the quality of the air we breathe needs to be wrapped up and sold in a design that’s desirable. Especially when time spent indoors has dramatically increased and still, the idea of air quality is not that well understood universally. 

Find out more about 3XN’s projects, don’t miss 3XN Architects aim for a LEED Platinum certificate for Forskaren.

AirBird - in playroom
As a smart sensor, AirBird tracks indoor air pollution before chirping its warnings – Image Credits: AirBird®
AirBird - In bedroom
With its charming ‘chirp algorithm’, which sounds when CO2 levels surpass a certain threshold, AirBird aims to gamify monitoring air quality – Image Credits: AirBird®
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