No, this isn’t the next installment of the Back to the Future franchise. There’s really a COVID-19 detector, similar to a smoke detector in your home, that can detect COVID-19 (and many other viruses) in the air.
Created by a company called Poppy, this air detector is small and inconspicuous enough to place on a kitchen counter or in a business and continuously monitors the air to detect the presence of viruses.
The device works using a testing strip and static electricity to attract pathogens in the air. It is designed for someone to then send the test strip in at the end of each day to a lab to be read, and results are available, often within one day, via an app.
Obviously, there’s the question of whether it actually works. Poppy has thought of this and has devised a self-check whereby sample (non-harmful) agents — the size of the aerosols released in human breath — are misted into the air from various locations within a space at the time of installation to test whether the device is properly functioning.
Currently, the air detector is in use in 40 locations across North America and operates on a subscription plan that costs a few hundred bucks per month. It is designed to be used in conjunction with proven mitigation strategies, such as masking and sterilization of surfaces and spaces, and can even detect locations within a space where airflow is stagnant and pathogens can linger in order to help subscribers improve air quality.
While the air detector as it currently exists is not practical for many when it comes to home use (a few hundred bucks per month AND the added chore of sending the little strip in for testing? no thanks), the company is working on an immediate, on-device detector and expects to have one available within a year (plus at lower costs once the need to ship strips in for testing is eliminated).
This could be a game-changer for all kinds of organizations and businesses if more choose to onboard.
Hello, schools? Those disgusting petri dishes with outdated HVAC systems where viruses party like it’s 1999? Yeah, they could definitely use this, not only to detect potential outbreaks, but also to detect where they need to install some $100 air purifiers from Amazon to get that stale-ass air a’flowing.
And hospitals? Airports? Movie theaters? Grocery stores? All the nasty viral dumping grounds we visit regularly? This thing could definitely be useful in determining where we need to point that can of Lysol and spray.
Here’s to hoping Poppy — or another company like them — is able to perfect this technology and make it affordable enough for everyone to install, eliminating the need to play the “Is it COVID or just allergies?” game and shove that humongous COVID test Q-tip up our noses over and over until we die.