“I can give you a real-world view from employers and employees,” says That’s not good for the real estate market, especially in big cities like New York.
What is a life hack that you think everybody should know?
A life hack I made in my bedroom accidentally made its way into the homes of 40,000 people in China and India. But I was really just trying to solve my own problem.
The problem was I was coughing. The air outside my window looked like this:
I was living through, and I finally understood why I had a cold every other week this winter.
I thought fixing the problem would be easy. I’d just buy an air purifier. But the one everyone was talking about cost $2,000!
Even the “cheap” one cost $500. I was a poor PhD student doing psychology research. I didn’t have thousands of dollars to outfit my apartment with purifiers.
But I thought I smelled bullshit. Does safe air really need to cost a thousand dollars?
Here’s where I’m tempted to say I did in-depth research, but then I’d be the bullshitter. In reality, all the information I needed was on .
- HEPA filters capture over 99% of particles 0.3 microns and above ( !)
- These magical HEPA filters were invented in the 1940s.
- They’re not patented, so anyone can make one.
- And they’re cheap because they’re made out of synthetic fibers, like a shirt or a backpack.
Since I was in China, I found a factory that made HEPAs, ordered one for about $15, and strapped it to a fan I had at home.
It wasn’t pretty. I didn’t even have anything to strap the filter on, so I used a tape measure I found in the closet of the apartment I was renting.
OK, it has the main ingredients of a purifier, so it works in theory, but does it work in real life? I spent $30 to make the purifier, and then I went out and spent $300 on a laser particle counter. (It was the cheapest I could find.)
It was a dorky move, but I wanted to know for sure. After 5 weeks in my bedroom, I could see plenty of junk particles stuck in the filter.
But I wanted to know whether it was actually capturing the. That $300 laser particle counter could tell me that.
Here’s what the DIY did to 0.5 micron particles in my bedroom over 8 hours:
I tested it over and over—data that I was convinced. This $30 DIY purifier was removing significant amounts of tiny particulate from my Beijing bedroom., , , that I borrowed from my rich friends. Eventually, I saw enough
I wanted to tell the world that those $1,000 purifiers were ripoffs. I made all the data and testing methods open source. I wrote up .
I thought a few fellow expat nerds might take notice. But it turns out a lot of other people were facing the same problem. One day, I saw The Atlantic wrote about my little purifier.
And the BBC.
I was like…
I thought the hack was pretty simple, but soon I started getting emails from confused people. “I can’t find that type of fan! Can I use this fan?”
“That’s cool, but I’m too lazy to build one!”
So two friends and I startedto people all over China. We called it Smart Air.
That was six years ago. Since then, we’ve shipped low-cost purifiers to over 40,000 people across China.
And because China isn’t the only place with an air pollution problem, we started, , and . We’re also trying to raise money to launch .
Meanwhile, I finished my PhD research, and I’m still job. I’m NOT an expert in air pollution, just a stubborn nerd that faced a problem that turned out to be the same problem lots of other people were facing.in my day
I never imagined my bedroom DIY project would find its way into thousands of people’s homes. I guess nerdery comes in useful sometimes.