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Have success with sensors: – A smart house needs sensors that monitor everything

Norwegian Tech Award – Candidate 1

WHAT: Sensors for Monitoring Environmental Parameters Inside and Outdoor.
WHO: Airthings

Airthings should be known to TU's readers. The company has been overshadowed with prices both for its technology and ability to export. They have developed unique technology and followed up with expansions at a surprising pace.

The company was established ten years ago based on a unique and simple radon sensor. For the first time, someone had designed a small, cheap and reliable sensor that could be used over and over again. Over a day, it could give the results that it had needed for months with track record to determine.

There were some physics with a background from CERN who realized how to build the radon sensor that counts alpha articles released when the radon passes. These particles are usually not very dangerous, if they do not occur in the lungs. There they can catch sensitive DNA in the tissue, and if the DNA mutates you can develop lung cancer.

Independent assessment:

Hilde Erlandsen, Director of ICT and Digitization at the Research Council, states that since the start of 2008, Airthings has used more Research Council's arrangements, both national and European. Together they have received NOK 1

7.2 million.

"This is a business that grows, which creates jobs and earns money. What began as an entrepreneurial business based on basic research competence has succeeded in commercialization and is now a player in a global market. "

But it does not help to have a good sensor at the bottom unless you build products and a business around it . It has made Airthings, and now the radon sensor is just one of many sensors in the company's latest products. Airthings has developed products that measure the indoor environment with great accuracy and how it varies over the day. This means that the new Wave Plus multi-sensors can be used to much more than the pure radon sensors can.

Growth and Bottom Line

From a simple start, the company currently has 40 employees. Four of them work in North America, which is the largest of many export markets. The fact that Airthings is technology-driven shows, among other things, that 25 of the employees work with R & D. Despite rapid growth, they have had a solid profit since 2013.

In addition to selling products online, the company has hundreds of retailers across North America targeting the consumer market.

– We have been in the consumer technology market With health focus since the start, and we will continue with that. But now, with the new multisensors and a hub that can connect many of them, we've taken the step into building operations. In order to realize a smart building, sensors are required that monitor everything and can provide information for management. In addition to monitoring the radon level, we measure continuous air pressure, temperature, humidity, CO 2 and VOC. This allows us to control buildings in terms of safety, comfort and energy economy, "says Airy's chief executive officer, Øyvind Birkenes.

Norwegian Tech Award

Annual award awarded by Tekniske Ukeblad

Criteria: Scale represent a good engineering solution or breakthrough on a technological or societal issue.

Winner is awarded in a combination of reader polls on tu.no and a professional jury.

The winner will be announced and the prize will be awarded to the Oslo Military Society on 28 November. 19659005] Jury:
Trond Markussen, Nito (juryleder)
Lise Lyngsnes Randeberg, Tekna
Sverre Gotaas, Herøya Industrial Park
Anne Kjersti Fahlvik, Norway's Research Council
Daniel Ras-Vidal, Abelia
Mette Vågnes Eriksen, Polytechnic Association
Katrine Vinnes, Norsk Industri
Jan M. Moberg, TU

Not only single measurements used as control data. Equally important are the measurements of all time series and how they fluctuate and that different measurement parameters can be combined to achieve better results. The sensors perform measurements every 5 minutes. These are uploaded in Airthing's own solution, where they are processed and used by both private and business customers.

– Measurements can be set up flexibly. We can look at the pressure sensor when a door goes up and then it can trigger a notice or action. If there are a lot of people in a room, the CO 2 level will increase. Likewise, the VOC level increases if the ventilation becomes too bad, and such combination data can be used to control ventilation to optimize health and energy consumption. We see that the CO 2 level is very important for productivity. If it becomes too high, people's cognitive performance is significantly reduced. There are not many people aware of, and even though it costs a little bit of ventilation, it's much more expensive for people to think worse, "says Birkenes.

Service subscription

Airthings has been selling sensors to date. But in the future rental and service sales will be a major part of the turnover.

– There is very good growth in the consumer market. The market for offices, schools and kindergartens takes some time to get started. But when subscribers are in place, this is a very stable turnover.

Recently, the company launched an expansion of the data base to customers by providing geographically accurate information about outdoor air. Airthings buys data from an aggregator and tells customers how the air is outside the home or building. How much dust is it, what the level of NOx and SO 2 is, and other important data on air pollution. In addition, they have created their own dynamic map of radon levels covering the countries where they have sensors. It is much more accurate than regular radon maps based on few single samples and interpolation. The chart can be seen at radonmap.com.

Heavy targets

– In 2015, when we traded for 15 million kroner, we set ourselves the goal of reaching a turnover of 100 million kroner this year. We get pretty close to that. The next goal is to trade for 100 million dollars. We believe that and we think we will get there quickly. No one has developed a multisensor with radon like spring, says Birkenes.

The strategy is to produce, sell and rent unique sensors and other devices, and use that business to develop a value-added software platform with a rich service offer.

"To achieve this, we must continue to develop devices that are very easy to use and which can be powered by battery for many years. That's what we're going to do, says Birkenes.


  1. Airthings (this article)
  2. Griff Aviation
  3. NEL
  4. NSM / Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace
  5. Seabox
  6. Zivid

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