According to the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate research, air pollution inside our homes and buildings can be up to five times worse than outside. Considering that's where we spend 90 per cent of our time (maybe more, for homebodies like myself), maybe we should be thinking about this a little more.
Famous for its massive investments into research and development, I had a chat with Dyson's Global Product Development Director for Environmental Control, Paul Dawson, about what went into making the Pure Hot+Cold link, and how we can use smart homes and the Internet of Things to improve our lives.
"We did a lot of research," Dawson told Gizmodo. "We've been in people's homes, analysing filters, sifting through what we have captured - it's a pretty disgusting job - but we've been looking at what we captured that came from various gases and sources of pollution inside people's homes."
What Dyson found was a combination of chemicals.
The main offenders were formaldehyde (from building and insulating materials, pressed wood products, plywood, medium density fibreboard (MDF), paints, adhesive, varnishes, floor finishes, vehicle emissions and tobacco smoke), benzene (paint, lacquers, petrol, glues, detergents, rubber, cleaning/degreasing formulations and tobacco smoke), toluene (petrol, vehicle exhaust emissions, vapours from stored fuel sources, solvent released from paints, adhesives, some personal care products and tobacco smoke), napthalene (usually occurs in solid form, but can also be released as a gas to indoor air).
Now, this isn't a "all chemicals are bad and everything will give you cancer" scare tactic. Formaldehyde is a substance banned in many countries around the world, well known for its causation of neurodegenerative diseases. Benzene is known to cause leukemia. Breathing high levels of toluene during pregnancy has been shown to result in children with birth defects. The World Health Organisation lists napthalene as a carcinogen.
Whilst air purifiers are known to help capture pollen, mould, bacteria and odours to help clean the air and to combat indoor air pollution, some machines struggle to trap the ultrafine particles of these dangerous chemicals - and that's what Dyson has been working on with the Pure Hot+Cool Link.
"We've refined and improved the chemistry of the filters," Dawson said. "This new machine contains a brand new filter construction for us - and we've now also got three times the amount of graphite crystals to which we've added Tris - which gives them superpowers to absorb volatile organic compounds in the home."
Dawson described Tris as "an organic compound that improves the absorbency of the crystals", and says based on conversations with suppliers, he believes this technology has not been used in any other product.
In terms of how the product works, Dawson says it's not how quickly you can clear a room, but how intelligently.
"We've got some pretty advanced sensors," Dawson says. "The products can 'sniff' the air every second, and using an algorithm we've developed through a series of home trials around the world the purifier can respond to any kind of air pollution that is senses."
"The analogy I like to use is - if you had a fire, what's the most difficult thing to put out - the fire that's raging out of control or the match that started it? We'd rather sense the match striking than wait for the bush to be on fire."
When asked who could benefit from having a home air filtration system, Dawson laughs. "I love this question, because the answer is - anyone with a pair of lungs."
"I travel the world talking to customers and understanding their concerns, and to put it in simple terms - the Chinese consumer is very aware of air pollution - because the can see it. The danger of indoor air pollution is you can't really see it."
Dawson says a recent study in the UK, with the Pure Hot+Cool Link, showed 88 per cent of people said they slept better with the unit in their homes.
"We are now working to understand the science behind that more," Dawson says. "We're really interested to find out if purified air can make you sleep better. That would be really exciting."
But the future of Dyson's Air Purifiers isn't just in the filtration capabilities.
"We are still learning a lot from the whole concept of the connected home," Dawson says. "What we are trying to do is step into more intelligent machines. The combination of a purifier, heating and cooling - that multi-functionality - is something resonating in people. We are going to continue to look at and develop products that would do that more."
Dawson says the idea of a "smart homes" and the integration of Internet of Things is "basically a buzzword".
"Dyson's approach is we want to embrace that technology - but we want to do it in a way that brings true value to the consumer," Dawson says. "There's a lot of devices that are connected out there that don't necessarily drive any value."
"What we are looking for are the smart home functions that can improve the everyday lives of the customer - we are looking into artificial intelligence and machine learning to all improve the products we develop for consumers."