I personally love when people have passion for things they do with their free time, whether it's a hobby or a simple side project it is amazing to see people invest their time into something they find interesting and derive joy from doing. In light of that thought I caught up with my friends Berni War an entrepreneur and Brad Jester an environmental engineer to see what they had to say about their open source air purifier aaaiiirrr. Aiming to educate and build air pollution awareness with the project, they are also striving to offer an affordable alternative to current market options that range from 5000 to 6000 RMB. Keep reading below to see what they had to say!
Tell us a bit about yourselves and the project:
Berni: I am just a guy with the equivalent of a desk job. Spending most of my time indoors I was getting more and more concerned about air pollution indoor and out and did not know what I could do about it. From spending my free time at Xinchejian (hacker space), being around people doing open source projects, and seeing people working on what they were passionate about, it inspired me to work towards something I feel strongly about, even if I still don't know what I'm doing. There was a program called make plus at Xinchejian and they encouraged me to pitch any idea. It was 2, a smart curtain opener, and an open source air purifier. The people chose wisely.
I have been working for 7 years developing solar power projects and solar tech companies in the US and Asia. Despite working toward reducing the main cause of air pollution, fossil
fuel power generation living in China has made me realize that these efforts will never in my lifetime protect me or others from the existing sources of pollution.
How and when did the aaaiiirrr project get started?
Brad: Berni and I met at an air pollution related discussion a year and a half ago. At the event Phillips was displaying one of their air purifiers and we talked about the cost of current air purifiers and how they were still seemingly out of reach for most people living in Shanghai. We became friends and continued just talking and complaining about air pollution until a year ago when Berni took the initiative to sign up for the Maker+ program which officially launched the project.
Why are you both so interested in air filters?
Berni: Because I have mild asthma. I really don't want it to get worse and it seems to not smoke is just not enough.
Brad: The feeling of not being able to control my health is a stressful thought. I think many others in China have similar feelings and air purifiers allow us to regain control of at least one aspect of our health and environment.
What has been the most interesting part of the project so far?
Berni: How to get a lot of people in a open environment to focus on the same aim. It's been challenging but an awesome learning experience.
Brad: I have tried to create a number of products and businesses and this is the first time in recent history that people say they can't wait to get one. Many people, even those who own air purifiers really do feel like they are concerned about air quality and I think the openness of our products and testing is refreshing.
Can people make their own air filters with you?
Berni: We want to put people first and keep this project open source by making the plans available, using standardizes sizes, and in the near future making them available by purchase. Aside from our initial test users though we are only taking names for pre-orders at the moment. In the next weeks we will be manufacturing a few test prototypes and will continue to let people know what we learn.
Is it still possible for people to get involved/participate somehow if they are interested?
Berni: Everybody is welcome! Join and bring your mad skills on board. We want to keep designing different solutions, and get people excited . We are currently seeking industrial designers and artists, as well as anyone willing to bring positive energy and skills. We will have open meeting at Xinchejian, Sundays at 12pm. Shoot us an email in advance if you want to attend: email@example.com
How has the project been receive so far?
Berni: Very well and we are trying to balance what we do for a living (not this) while pushing this project forward during out spare time. It's a passion project with a purpose and we are excited to what we can do this year.
To get involved, pre-order or learn more email them at firstname.lastname@example.org