Business / Technology

Startup rolls out smart air quality device in China to combat pollution

By Emma Gonzalez ( Updated: 2015-06-30 13:54

Startup rolls out smart air quality device in China to combat pollution

Laser egg showing air pollution levels using the US air quality index. [Photo provided to] 

Entrepreneur Liam Bates has launched a company that he believes can produce the air quality of the Swiss Alps in your own home.

With two co-founders, the Swiss-born businessman set up Origins Technology in Beijing, which specializes in creating smart air quality devices for the Chinese market.

He came up with the idea of developing a low-cost air purifying system after his fiancee's asthma returned due to the high levels of pollution here.

Trying to find the best air purifier in China, Bates turned to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's online marketplace to see what was out there.

"I probably checked nearly 100 different products and I realized that most devices were inefficient," he said. "They all shared the same characteristics, without any product standing out from the competition."

Bates decided there was a gap in the market and set up Origins Technology 2014 before rolling out the OxyBox air purifier last June at a retail price of 4,499 yuan ($725).

At that time, the air purifier market was expanding rapidly. In 2013, it registered between 80 percent and 100 percent growth compared to the previous year, according to market research company Daxue Consulting.

In 2014, there were more than 200 companies manufacturing air purifiers in China, the consulting firm Research and Markets reported. Total sales here reached 3.5 billion yuan in 2013, according to market research firm Daxue Consulting.

Bates and Origins Technology realized the importance that Chinese consumers place on foreign technology when purchasing air purifiers.

Last year, foreign brands grabbed 80 percent of the Chinese market with companies such as Philips, Panasonic and Sharp dominating the sector, Research and Markets pointed out.

For that reason, Origins Technology worked closely with Swiss businesses, such as Snowline Switzerland S.a.r.l, to develop OxyBox. Bates said his air purifier can reduce pollutants in a Beijing apartment to levels below those in the Swiss Alps.

"We used the latest technology available to make the product," he added. "The filters are Swiss-made using micro glass so they can even capture the smallest particles."

Following the success of his first product, the company decided to take another step.

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