Category Archives: health

Fitbit and UPSC Announce Voluntary Recall of Fitbit Ionic



Fitbit announced, with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPS), a voluntary recall of Fitbit Ionic smartwatches. These were introduced by Fitbit in 2017 and stopped being produced in 2020. According to Fitbit, the battery in the Ionic smartwatch can overheat, posing a burn hazard.

The voluntary recall is specific to Fitbit Ionic devices only. It does not impact any other Fitbit smartwatches or trackers. Fitbit asks those who have a Fitbit Ionic to stop using their devices.

The CPSC provided additional information about the recall:

This recall only involves the Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch. It was sold with a polyurethane band and has a 1.4-inch color LCD screen. The watches were sold in slate blue/burnt orange, charcoal/smoke gray, blue gray/silver gray, and a special edition co-branded with Adidas in ink blue/silver gray. The smartwatch tracks activity, heart rate, and sleep.

Only the following models and colors are included in this recall. For the Ionic device, the model number (FB503) is on the back of the device where the band attaches. Fitbit is printed on the front of the Iconic Smartwatch.

According to CPSC, Fitbit has received at least 115 reports in the United States (and 59 reports internationally) of the battery in the watch overheating with 78 reports of burn injuries in the United States including two reports of third-degree burns and four reports of second-degree burns (and 40 reports of burn injuries internationally).

Those who own a Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch should visit Fitbit’s official recall page https://www.fitbitionic.expertinquiry.com to start the process of finding out if they are eligible for a refund.

Engadget reported that Fitbit stopped selling the product in 2020 before being acquired by Google. Previous to the acquisition, Fitbit sold around a million Ionic smartwatches in the US and 693,000 internationally. Those who still own an Ionic can get a $299 refund for their device. They can also get a 40 percent off discount code for future purchases if they send in their old smartwatches.

It is good that Fitbit and CSPS are alerting consumers that the Fitbit Ionic has caused some people to get serious burns. Most people who use a smartwatch choose to wear it to track metrics like sleep, heart rate, and activity. Nobody should suffer a burn from a device that was intended to help people focus on their health.


Airthings Wave Mini Air Quality Monitor Hands-On Review



It was back in 2012 when the two big stalwarts of the smart home market, Philips Hue and SmartThings, first arrived on the market to automate our homes. Ten years later, almost every home has something “smart”, whether a few lights, Amazon Alexa or a video doorbell.

Perhaps instead of smart homes, the focus should have been on safe and healthy homes first. People will be familiar with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors for safety but when it comes to healthy homes, it’s more unfamiliar territory. We’ve probably all seen news reports about mold in poor quality housing or air pollution from traffic near busy roads. Everyone knows about smart bulbs but what about smart air quality detectors? These could really benefit asthma and allergy sufferers.

For the healthy home, Norwegian specialists Airthings have a range of products which can monitor for radioactive gases like argon, the presence of VOCs – volatile organic compounds – or predict the likelihood of mold growing. What are VOCs? Airthings says that they’re a combination of gases and odours emitted from many different toxins and chemicals found in everyday products. They come from an array of everyday items including paints and varnishes, wax and cosmetics, cleaning and hobby products, and even cooking and human breath. When you have an enclosed space like a home or office, these emitted gases accumulate and pollute our fresh air. That sounds bad but how bad is it really?

To find out, Airthings kindly send me one of their Wave Mini Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor (hereafter known as Wave Mini) to try out and I’ve been impressed on a number of fronts – it’s easy to use, can be located almost anywhere inside and seems to give hard data in line with expectations. Let’s take a closer look…

The Wave Mini comes in a small cardboard box that befits the Mini’s size – there’s no wastage here with an excessively large box. Inside is the Wave MIni, a small stand, batteries and some short instructions. Batteries? Yes, this is the first win. There’s no need to locate the Wave Mini near a power socket or to have an unsightly cable as the device uses three standard AA batteries for about two years worth of operation depending on battery brand. Score one.

As you’ll see from the pictures, the Wave Mini is the usual anonymous white with an impressed Airthings logo, and can either be wall mounted or sit on a horizontal surface courtesy of the small stand. The back of the Mini is held in place magnetically so it’s still very easy to change the batteries if the unit is on a wall. Score two.

Airthings Wave Mini rearThe Wave Mini communicates with a smartphone via Bluetooth, (though a new Hub is available as well for those looking to connect up multiple devices). Both Android and Apple devices are supported so the next step is to download the app and create an account with Airthings. Once you’re in the app, it’s pretty much a case of pulling the battery tab on the Mini, adding a device and letting the phone getting on with the job. You can assign the Mini to a specific room too, such as office or bedroom.

The app requires a few permissions and config changes to make sure that it will sync regularly with the Mini. I was on Android and didn’t feel there was anything too suspicious. Once the configuration is done, Airthings recommend putting the Wave Mini in its new home and leaving it there for a week to allow the sensors to calibrate and settle in. Time passes…

The week’s up and now the Airthings app provides information and graphs on the condition of the air in the room. It offers three main measurements – VOCs, humidity and temperature – and combines them to create a mold risk from 0 to 10, with 0 being very low risk and 10 being almost certain. Ok, so it doesn’t sound very exciting but if you have concerns about the air quality in your home, you’re now gathering hard data. The app will also alert on the phone if certain thresholds are exceeded, e.g. it gets too hot or too humid, but these are preset thresholds and you can’t change them.

Here are some example screenshots from the app.

The graphs show that I’ve nothing to worry about in my home – everything was all very normal. There are a few nifty features – you can choose different time periods from 48 hours to a year, and there’s a little cursor that can be moved along the graph line to get the specific data point. The app links to helpful information on the web via questions like “What is humidity?”

A common complaint of smart home technology is that it’s often the male geek controlling the house and that other inhabitants don’t have access to the data. That’s still partly the case here, but the Wave Mini has a single LED on the front that will glow green, amber or red when a hand is swiped in front of it, giving an overall assessment of the air quality. This is great as it negates the need to always review the data on a smartphone and includes more of the household. Looking at some of Airthings other products, they often come with little displays too. Score three for inclusivity.

And if that’s not enough, Airthings offer even more ways to interact with your data. There’s a web-based dashboard, an API, skills with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and integration with IFTTT. The latter gives some options around “If the temperature is above 30 C, turn on fan”. I had difficulty getting the Alexa skill to work – it wouldn’t recognise “Airthings” and according to some of the reviews, it’s a bit limited anyway.
It would have been good to see direct integration with, say, SmartThings, but if the new Matter standard comes to pass, it may not be an issue.

In terms of the competition, the only one I have direct experience of is Foobot and as far as I know, they’ve left the consumer market. In comparison, both devices collect the same information but the Wave Mini is far neater and more convenient. Score four.

Drawing this to a close, having spent a couple of weeks with the Airthings Wave Mini, I think it’s an easy to use and reliable bit of smart home tech that could really benefit families where either there is an allergy or asthma sufferer, or there are concerns about pollution or mold in the home. Priced at UK£69, the Wave Mini is affordable for most people and could be a real boon in providing solid data when there are questions. Available now.

Thanks to Airthings for providing the Wave Mini for review.


Airthings View Plus Smart Air Monitor



Scandinavian air quality specialists, Airthings, have announced the View Plus smart air monitor which senses over half-a-dozen air quality metrics: particulate matter (PM), carbon dioxide (CO2), radon gas (Rn), temperature, humidity and air pressure. Designed to help create a healthy home, air quality has become all the more important during the pandemic lockdowns with people remaining in their houses to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

The World Health Organisation estimates that over 4 million people die every year from air pollution, so it’s a very real problem. While generally air quality is poorer indoors compared with outdoors, it varies greatly from place to place and it can sometimes be hard to tell if there’s a problem. For example, radon gas is naturally found in many areas but it’s odourless and invisible. If you are interested in radon exposure and you’re in the UK, Public Health England has a handy interactive map.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen the levels of awareness about air quality increase dramatically,” said Oyvind Birkenes, CEO of Airthings. “We decided to develop View Plus to help people everywhere understand that they have more control over their air quality than they might think. Our mission at Airthings has always been to educate people and foster constructive conversation about how air quality can impact their health and daily lives. With View Plus, we can empower people to learn about the air quality in their homes in a way that is constructive and easy to understand.

It’s back to the old business aphorism: you can’t manage what you don’t measure but unlike many smart home gadgets, Airthings have gone to considerable lengths to ensure that the View Plus works for the family and not just for the “geek in charge”. To start with, the View Plus looks good with a sleek minimalistic design, and recognising that smartphones apps aren’t always convenient, the View Plus offers a customisable display showing the current air quality status. Of course, the View Plus does have wireless connectivity (WiFi and Bluetooth) and there is full integration with Airthings smartphone app and web dashboard, plus IFTTT, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support.

The View Plus has a battery life of more than two years allowing it to be placed wherever convenient, but if it can be plugged in via USB C, the View Plus has built-in hub functionality, so owners can expand their system and bring together other Airthings devices.

Airthings View Plus is now available for pre-order beginning on Airthings.com with a special10% off pre-launch discount before the end of March 2021. The product will start shipping to customers this June for £259 / $299 USD inc VAT.


LUFT Duo Personal Air Purifier Launches Worldwide at CES 2021



The first ever portable and filterless air purifier, the LUFT Duo, will make its worldwide debut at CES 2021 after smashing its crowd-funding goals and raising more than 20 times its original target on Indiegogo. Developed by Taiwanese consumer electronics brand LUFTQI, the LUFT Duo is unlike traditional purifiers in that it’s portable, doesn’t require expensive filter replacements, and uses UVA LED and photocatalytic tech to zap dust, pollen, mold, and pathogens down to the molecule.

As the successor to the Luft QI 1.0 and the Luft Cube 2.0, this molecular air purifier is a must-have gadget for those with allergies or asthma, who live in built-up, congested areas, or those who just want some extra health security in their homes.

Building on their brand slogan of “Good air, anytime and anywhere”, the LUFT Duo stays true to the company’s small-but-powerful product design while bringing a sense of security to those living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The clever design of LUFT Duo means it creates zero unnecessary waste with a replaceable, washable filter. To keep a LUFT Duo in working order, all users have to do is remove the filter and gently clean.

Compared to HEPA filters, which are only capable of trapping certain pollutants, LUFTQI’s patented photocatalytic technology allows the LUFT Duo to also decompose pollutants too small for HEPA filters, such as formaldehyde, which measures 0.00001mm – as well as molds, VOCs, and pathogens.

The LUFT Duo is also eco-friendly, producing zero ozone as it purifies.

It’s portable and compact design means the LUFT Duo can be used in cars, coffee shops, offices, or airplanes, making it the perfect personal travel companion for those who suffer from asthma or allergies and may be more at risk during the pandemic.

After listening to feedback from LUFT QI 1.0 and LUFT Cube 2.0 users, LUFTQI designed the LUFT Dup to be twice as powerful as its predecessors, but half as noisy, meaning it won’t disturb you – or the others around you – during use. It has a Night Mode setting which enables a darker light of 0.2 lumens and quieter running sound of just 19 decibels so as not to disturb you while sleeping.

The LUFT Duo is also capable of purifying air in a 240-square foot space, meaning only one is needed for an entire home. Best of all, there’s no complex or intricate setup required for the LUFT Dup – simply plug in and turn on with a single button press.

The LUFT Duo is currently in production, and has already sold 20,000 units across Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan. The device is available for purchase in the US and UK through its Indiegogo page for $149, which includes the LUFT Duo, power cable, vent cap for more controlled air flow, and a cup holder so that it can be used in your car securely. A specially-designed travel bag is also available.


Apple Watch Series 6 Can Measure Blood Oxygen Levels



Apple announced Apple Watch Series 6. It features a Blood Oxygen Sensor and app. That addition was an excellent decision on Apple’s part considering that it appears that a low blood oxygen level might have something to do with COVID-19.

“Apple Watch Series 6 completely redefines what a watch can do,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “With powerful new features, including a Blood Oxygen sensor and app, Apple Watch becomes even more indispensable by providing further insight into overall well-being.”

The Blood Oxygen sensor compensates for natural variations in the skin and improves accuracy by employing four clusters of green, red, and infrared LEDs, along with four photodiodes on the back of the Apple Watch, to measure light reflected back from blood.

Apple Watch then uses an advanced custom algorithm built into the Blood Oxygen app, which is designed to measure blood oxygen between 70 percent and 100 percent. On-demand measurements can be taken while the users is still, and periodic background measurements occur when they are inactive, including during sleep. All data will be visible in the Health app, and the user will be able to track trends over time to see how their blood oxygen level changes.

A person’s blood oxygen level has important information not just related to COVID-19, but also to other health issues. Apple will be collaborating with the University of California, Irvine, and Anthem to examine how longitudinal measurements of blood oxygen and other physiological signals can help manage and control asthma.

In addition, Apple will work with the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research and the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the University Health Network to better understand how blood oxygen measurements and other Apple Watch metrics can help with management of heart failure.

Investigators with the Seattle Flu Study at the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine and faculty from the University of Washington School of Medicine will seek to learn how signals from apps on Apple Watch, such as Heart Rate and Blood Oxygen, could serve as early signs of respiratory conditions like influenza and COVID-19.

Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS) starts at $399 and Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS + Cellular) starts at $499.


Xiaomi Ecosystem Updates for the UK



Xiaomi launched in the UK back in November 2018 and has made considerable progress in brand recognition and product availability – I know a couple of people who have bough Mi phones or Smart Bands and say good things. Certainly there’s probably an element of benefitting from Huawei’s misfortune but I think that does a disservice to Xiaomi’s products which go from personal gadgets and personal transport to smart homes and smart phones.

Xiaomi continues to move forwards and recently revealed its plans for UK partnerships for electric scooters and smart phones, plus the availability of the latest Mi Smart Band 5. Checking out these scooters, I definitely need to get one of these in for review…

Motoring and cycling specialists Halfords will be stocking Xiaomi’s new scooters. At the top of the range is the Mi Electric Scooter Pro 2 at GB£599. This e-scooter has a range of 45 km and can reach speeds of 25 km/h (15.5 mph) with a 300 W motor, and folds up for easy storage. It’s available now from Halfords.

Also available is the Mi Electric Scooter 1S, a cheaper variant of the Pro 2 at £499, but still coming with a range of 25 km and a top speed of the 25 km/h (15.5 mph) from the 250 W motor. Both the 1S and the Pro 2 have double brakes for safety.

At the bottom of the range is the Mi Electric Scooter Essential at £399 which can cover a distance of 20 km at a speed of 20 km/h. This scooter comes with 8.5″ pneumatic tyres, E-ABS and disc brakes and will be available soon.

Please remember that currently electric scooters can only be ridden legally on private land. UK Government trials are underway using commercial rental scooters. For a bit of fun, check out this race between a Xiaomi scooter and a jet-pack. Really…a jet pack

On the phone side, Xiaomi has partnered with 3 UK to offer the Mi 10 5G and Redmi Note 9 smartphones from 28th August. These are phones at opposite ends of the handset market. The Mi 10 comes with 6.67″ 90 Hz screen with a Snapdragon 865 CPU, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB storage, 5G and a quad camera setup with a 108 MP main shooter. Photos are analysed and improved using AI to get the best possible image. Priced at £799, it’s not cheap but there’s plenty of value in the Mi 10. On contract, 3 are offering a number of deals, including some with six months half-price.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Redmi Note 9 is only £149 with a 6.53″ FHD+ screen powered by a Mediatek Helio G85. There’s an AI supported quad camera round the back, with a 48 MP primary lens, and comes with 3 GB RAM and 64 GB of storage. Again, 3 have offers on the phone if buying the phone outright isn’t your thing

Finally, the Mi Smart Band 5 has a large 1.1″ AMOLED colour display, tracks 11 different sport types and is water-resistant to 50m, which means it’s perfect for swimming. With a two week battery life and magnetic coupling, it can spend more time on the wrist and less time on the charger. Priced at only £39.95 it seems like a complete bargain!

If you want to see more on all these products, the UK launch video is on Twitter.


Xiaomi Shows Off New Product Line Up



In a keynote online presentation today, Xiaomi showed off its upcoming new Mi products in a range of categories from smart bands to scooters. The company is 10 years old in 2020 and is ranked 24th in Boston Consulting Group’s 50 most innovative companies, with its smartphones ranked in the top 5 in over 40 companies. Xiaomi has built a large ecosystem of consumer electronics, wearables, TVs, scooters, smart home devices and smartphones.

Here are the new devices announced.

Mi Smart Band 5

Xaoimi’s fitness trackers have been previously well received (over 100 million sold) and I think we can expect the same for the Mi Smart Band 6. Available from tomorrow priced at only GB£39.99, the Mi Band 5 will come in six fun colours, including a bang on trend camo green (which is described as mint green in the presser – best to check). The Mi Band has a 1.1″ AMOLED display (126×294 px), Bluetooth 5.0 BLE and is water-resistant to 5 ATM or 50 metres for swimming and snorkeling.

In terms of activities, the Band 5 supports eleven exercise types, with five new ones including yoga, skipping rope and elliptical trainer. The heart rate tracking has been improved by up to 50%, there’s better sleep monitoring and brand new stress detection. Female owners can track menstrual cycles with helpful reminders.

There’s up to 14 days of battery life and is charged via a magnetic coupling. You can also use the Mi Band as a remote shutter for your smartphone camera.

Available from tomorrow (16 July) priced at €39.99 from mi.com/uk. UK pricing will be confirmed then.

Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 Basic

The Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 Basic provide 5 hours of listening time per charge with the charging case able to deliver three further charges. Charge time is about 90 minutes and the case is charged via USB C. Hurrah!

With Bluetooth 5.0 BLE and a range of 10 m, the Mi Earphones offer all the usual features including dual mic environmental noise cancellation, auto pause when removing an earphone and support for the SBC/AAC codec. The Earphones work with both Android and iOS. Availability is from 16 July for an extremely reasonable GB£49.99 from mi.com/uk.

Mi Electric Scooter 1S and 2 Pro

With rental electric scooters now legal in much of the UK, there’s hope that personal scooters will be usable soon too.

Xiaomi announced two new electric scooters, the 1S and 2 Pro for the UK. Powered by a 300W motor, the Pro 2 can reach speeds of 25 km/h with a range of 45 km depending on terrain, taking in slopes of up to 20%. Weighing just over 14 kg, it can be folded up in less than three seconds. The Pro 2 comes with lights, reflectors and disc brakes. The Pro 2 is priced from €499.

The 1S is a slightly less powerful model (250W) which still reaches 25 km/h. Range is reduced to 30 km and can only tackle 14% gradients hills, but the benefit is less weight at 12.5 kg. The 1S will cost €399.

UK availability and pricing to be confirmed.

Mi TV Stick

The Mi TV Stick is an AndroidTV 1080p media streaming with Chromecast built-in and a Bluetooth remote control. Prices will start from €39.99.

Mi Curved Gaming Monitor

It’s a whopping 34″ curved gaming monitor with a 21:9 WQHD display supporting a 144 Hz refresh rate. That’s big…Pricing starts at €399.

Redmi 9 Smartphones

Xiaomi updated its entry-level phone series, Redmi, with the 9, 9C and 9A. Some of these have been available in other countries but they’re now officially coming to Europe.

  • Redmi 9 – 6.53″ display with Helio G80 chipset, 5020 mAh battery, quad rear camera and NFC. 3GB+32GB version is €149. 4GB+64GB is €169.
  • Redmi 9C – 6.53″ display with Helio G35 chipset, 5000 mAh battery, triple rear camera. 2GB+32GB is €119, 3GB+64GB is €139.
  • Redmi 9A – 6.53″ display with Helio G25 chipset, 5000 mAh battery, 13 MP rear camera. 2GB+32GB is €99.

Overall, that’s a pretty impressive selection of products coming from Xiaomi in the next few months.