uHoo is a high-tech air quality sensor founded by Dustin Jefferson S. Onghanseng, CEO, and Brian Lin, CTO in 2014. Dustin oversees operations, marketing, finance and new business strategy using the extensive experience he has in developing corporate strategies from his work in Deloitte. He has an MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and a Bachelor’s in Computing from NUS. Brian Lin is responsible for the research and technology development for uHoo. He also has an MBA from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and a Bachelor of Science from UCLA. Both Brian and Dustin won the Oregon New Venture Championships in 2014 for uHoo and were Champions in a number of technology and innovations competitions throughout Asia.
I had the opportunity to talk to Dustin about his product uHoo.
Could you please tell us how uHoo works?
uHoo is an air-quality sensor that senses the quality of air we breathe indoors. It relays these data to a user-friendly smartphone app minute by minute in real time. The data will be shown in a comprehensible format making it easier for us to understand what particles in the air are affecting us and when. This would be a great help for people with allergies or asthma to detect what their triggers are and how to prevent them. You can also share your devices and data, which allows you to share results with your family or medical professionals for further advice.
How is Uhoo air unique among other air quality sensors?
uHoo is different as it has 8 sensors built in and unlike other air quality sensors it is able to detect more chemicals, particles and toxins including Carbon dioxide, Carbon monoxide, Ozon, air pressure, volatile organic compounds like those in household cleaning products, temperature, dust and even humidity. It also includes a Health Diary in the app allowing the user to record asthma attacks, breathing difficulties or their allergic reactions. These can be digitized and shared with their doctors or close family members. uHoo is also designed to be aesthetically pleasing as well as to be portable.
How did you become interested in creating a smart air quality sensor like Uhoo?
I have suffered from hay fever (rhinitis) since childhood and I realized that air quality made a difference between “getting by” and feeling healthy. The bad air-quality in Hong Kong pushed me to find a solution. If you want something, you have to do it yourself right?
I teamed up with Brian Lin, an asthma sufferer with knowledge in electrical engineering and then an industrial and mechanical engineer Yoshima Suzuki. Together with 2 more engineers we pitched the idea for uHoo and won a few competitions in Asia and also in Portland, Oregon. Together we worked on uHoo and built the product for nearly 2 years. Today, we are proud to say that uHoo is the most advanced indoor air quality sensor on the market, with eight dedicated sensors, which no other product can match.
How do you think your product is filling a gap in the healthcare or environmental ecosystem?
Knowing the quality of the air you breathe helps you make better decisions on the products you use and your habits so you can live a healthier life. It is like your Fitbit which helps you to be more aware of your health through your exercise or sleep schedule. uHoo makes you more aware of the air you breath contributing allowing you to take action on improving your air quality. For example, cooking could lead to foreign particles polluting the air, by having uHoo you will be made aware of this thus leading you to air the kitchen out.
uHoo will be helpful to anyone who is suffering from breathing problems or allergies, parents, health conscious people and travelers who want to ensure the quality of air is the best.
What do you think the air quality in Singapore like indoors vs outdoors?
People in Singapore are not very worried about the quality of air indoors. They think that indoor air quality is good in non-haze months, which may not always be the case. The quality of air indoor is usually worse due to poor ventilation and air circulation.
What advice will you give young start-ups in the healthcare and environmental sector?
Just go for it, if you have a good idea don’t hesitate to pursue it.