December 2020
Interview

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Control Solutions, Inc. - Minnesota

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Virus Risk Indicator
 Oyvind Birkenes
 Chief Executive Officer of Airthings
and Ken Sinclair

EMAIL INTERVIEWWe chatted with Airthings CEO, Oyvind Birkenes, about the new feature and his vision for the brand.


                    



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Oyvind Birkenes is the Chief Executive Officer of Airthings, a company on a mission to ensure that people around the world take control of their Indoor Air Quality through simple, affordable and accurate technology. Birkenes brings over 20 years of industry experience, along with an overall passion for technology and innovation to create, plan and implement Airthings’ strategic direction and overall growth. Birkenes’ exceptional technical background earned him the title of CEO, where he is responsible for moving Airthings forward as the global leader in radon and Indoor Air Quality technology. Previously, Birkenes held the role of General Manager for Low Power RF at Texas Instruments where he defined and executed the overall strategy to achieve the company’s growth and profitability targets. His combined experience and proven track record have positioned Birkenes as a top thought leader in the technology industry and Indoor Air Quality space. Indoor Air Quality monitoring experts Airthings recently announced the launch of their Virus Risk Indicator, an impressive new capability that they’ve unveiled for their Airthings For Business solution.

Sinclair - First off, tell our audience a little bit about Airthings – what does the company do, and what’s your mission? Would you say your products are intended for everyday consumers, professionals/B2B enterprises, or a mix of both?

What does the company do?

Birkenes - Airthings is a global technology company based in Oslo, Norway with worldwide reach. We produce award-winning indoor air quality monitors for businesses, facilities managers, building owners, schools, homeowners, radon professionals and more. Our mission is to empower people around the world to recognize the impact of indoor air quality and take control of their health through simple, affordable, and accurate technology solutions. Recently we have increased focus on how this technology can also optimize energy consumption in buildings.


Sinclair - What is your mission?

Birkenes - Quite simply we help people to breath better while building a responsible energy policy that supports ESG goals. We’ll get into the details shortly.


Sinclair - Airthings Products?

Birkenes -  Airthings products are absolutely intended for both the professional and everyday consumer audiences, and our various air quality monitoring offerings are specifically developed to provide value in a number of indoor environments and use cases. Our flagship consumer product is the Wave Plus, which has received worldwide recognition and last year was named one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Best Inventions.” In 2019, we launched Airthings for Business, a tailored solution for offices, schools, hospitality and public buildings with extended coverage, customized alerting, robust dashboard and reports that include recommended actions to take. Airthings for Business helps users make more informed decisions through active monitoring of indoor air quality data.

Sinclair - What is the Virus Risk Indicator and how does it work?

Birkenes - Airthings’ Virus Risk Indicator is the latest in a series of innovations around virtual sensors that leverage existing data to derive new insights.  It is a new digital feature for our Wave Plus for Business smart indoor air quality monitor, which is part of the Airthings for Business solution. The Virus Risk Indicator helps people understand how indoor air quality contributes to spreading airborne viruses through customized insights that can enable actions to minimize the risk of virus spread. Specifically, the Virus Risk Indicator gathers data from the Wave Plus’ core sensors that track CO2, humidity, and temperature, and uses a proprietary algorithm to calculate the risk of airborne virus transmission in an indoor space. The Virus Risk Indicator evaluates four factors that have direct relationships with indoor virus spread – these include virus survival rate, room occupancy, ventilation rate, and the body’s natural defenses. From there, we assign a risk score ranging from 1-10 to inform the user about how conducive their indoor environment is to virus spread.

Sinclair - Our readers are typically facility management professionals. What makes the Virus Risk Indicator, and the Airthings For Business solution in general, something that they should consider? And why now?

Why?

Birkenes - A recent study by Healthy Spaces reported that 82% of respondents said indoor air quality is important when deciding where to work, shop or spend time while 88% of office employees say their employers are responsible for worker health. This is a sign that FMs, building owners, corporate and education leaders need to make Indoor Air Quality a core competency; it is now a clear differentiator that will drive revenue and retention. And let’s not forget that energy efficiency continues to be a key driver in ESG strategy towards carbon neutrality that will hopefully last well beyond the pandemic. While occupancy rates have dropped and/or fluctuated dramatically throughout the last nine months, few have adapted their energy strategy to account for this. We believe the way of working is experiencing a fundamental shift that will increase occupant variability in buildings and you need to understand these trends to inform energy maintenance and schedules. The Airthings for Business solution is designed to help organizations of all types and sizes build trust in the health of their indoor environments while improving energy efficiency.  We believe the Virus Risk Indicator is an innovative tool aimed at creating indoor environments where people thrive, but viruses don’t.

 Why now?

Birkenes - The global pandemic has driven an unprecedented increase in awareness around indoor air quality and complete disruption in how we look at workplaces.

Why Us?

Birkenes -Airthings for Business can equip you with the critical information needed to rebuild confidence in safely reopening shared spaces, whether that be your building, your company, your school, your gym, your hotel/restaurant. Democratizing the information around indoor air quality is the future as we navigate the new normal.

Sinclair - What makes your solution unique?

Birkenes - Airthings has built its foundation on the core value of “Helping people breathe better”. We’ve been transformative in the effort to raise awareness around Indoor Air Quality and will continue to lead the charge as we navigate uncharted waters. We build our foundation on 3 fundamental pillars that make us stand apart:

Simplicity:

        Birkenes - Battery operated devices that can be easily installed and/or retrofitted to any space

        Built in eSim card with PoE option so little/no need for IT resources

 Scalability: 

        Birkenes - Long range proprietary network connecting devices to hub

        Extended battery life

        Remote monitoring of multiple sites/locations in a single dashboard

        Configurable alerts

Smarts:

        Birkenes - Custom dashboard views and alerts

        Reports and recommendations based on specific IAQ readings

        Virtual sensors that apply proprietary algorithms to existing data to derive new insights:

o   Virus Risk Indicator

o   Mold Risk Indicator

o   Occupancy

        Multiple sensors in a single device that includes radon measurement

        Network of partners that can help with any mitigation actions that need to be taken

 



 

 





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