How India based Kurin systems is killing it with its air purifiers
Whether you like it or not, the air we breathe is set to become a commodity. At least in India, it is, and no this is not some capitalist spiel about how we are signing our lives over to major corporations but rather a disturbing and alarming rate of increase in air pollution across the country. We have bought this one on ourselves, last year according to data from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee or DPCC, post Diwali, the PM 10 levels which are the term given to coarse air pollution particles peaked at 1600 micrograms per cubic metres and the PM 2.5 levels which are the small respirable air particles were at 800. The safe, permissible levels for both are 60 and 100.

The air we breathe
So, what do we do? Well, the simple answer is to turn to technology. This is where air purifiers come in but the important thing to note here is that not all of them are cut from the same cloth.

"If you don't drink water for two days, you will still survive, I mean you will be very, very thirsty but you will still be alive, without air, Well I guess you can imagine the rest," says Pavneet Singh Puri, co-founder of Delhi based Kurin Systems. For him, it was a tragedy that got him involved in the Air Purifier business. It all started when he and his family moved back from Australia and his 8-month-old nephew could not breathe the air in our country. "He just could not breathe in India, it was something that shook us and that is how I started researching about air purifiers," he said over the telephonic interview with Gizmodo. Realising that the purifiers sold in the country could not handle the quality of air in India, he set about to make one of his own and that's how he and partner Madhur Mehta started Kurin Systems in 2015.

There is a stark difference in the air we breathe here when compared to a majority of countries. The Air Quality Index measures the breathable air and rates it in six distinct categories: Good, Satisfactory, Moderate, Poor, Very Poor and Severe. These are all self-explanatory with Good being the benchmark for the Minimal impact of pollutants. As of October 2017, you can count the number of cities in the country that have that Good rating in one hand. Worse yet, the majority of cities lay somewhere between Moderate and Poor, with one being rated Severe.

The technology that is driving the change
"Post Diwali last year the amount of PM 2.5, which are particles that are thinner than a single hair particle was somewhere between 700 to 800. That is post-apocalyptic levels of scary," says Pavneet "These are not conditions that air purifiers sold in the market can handle. Most companies sell the same purifiers that are sold in the US or Australia without any consideration to the deteriorating air quality in the country," He says. "It is also misleading to market purifiers on the basis of area, most companies selling in the country talk about the effectiveness of their device in terms of area," he says, "Air will always occupy the entire room which is why it is not measured in area but volume," he explains, "None of our competition has a CADR or Clean Air Delivery Rate of more than 300 cubic meters per hour, you also have to factor in the amount of times a room needs to be injected with fresh air in order for it to be clean, which is usually around 6 to 7 times. If we take a normal room in Delhi, it is about 70 to 80 cubic meters that needs to be cleaned and most of the top purifiers have a CADR of 300 which is barely around 5 cycles."

One of the reasons, Pavneet is confident in his products is because of the advanced technology that powers them. Kurin uses a specific motor called Shibaura which is manufactured in Japan. One of the advantages of this motor is its ability to spread air in 360 degrees, in comparison to the mostly unidirectional designs of the other companies. Kurin also uses a hospital grade HEPA H13 air filter, which filters out 99.9 percent of all pollutants. Combined, these have a total CADR of 620 cubic meters per hour, effectively double the competition.

"They are also smart," says Pavneet "They connect to Wi-Fi and can display detailed statistics via an app. They can also be turned on or off remotely and have intelligent saving features, at full power these draw as much voltage as two tube lights, they are also smart enough to automatically reduce power once they reach their 6 or 7th cycle. They can also alert you when a filter change is required and on average our filters last about a year."

How do their products stack up against the competition in India ?
If we take the competition into account, the one that comes closest to the Kurin in terms of CADR is the Eureka Forbes Aeroguard Wave, which is rated at 500 cubic meters per hour. Atlanta Healthcare PureZone 651 is tied with the Eureka at 500, the next best purifier is the Kent Eternal which is rated at 400, next is Honeywell with a number of options that all top out at 300, while popular options from Philips or Xiaomi hit a peak of 367.

The cheapest among these is the Xiaomi Mi Air Purifier that retails for Rs. 9,999 with a filter replacement cost of about Rs. 2,499 but it's missing the hospital grade HEPA filter. The next cheapest solution with the HEPA filter retails for Rs. 19,149, which is the KENT Aura, it has a CADR of 400 and is not smart meaning it has no remote functionality or app control of any kind. It also doesn't have 360 degree airflow and has a filter replacement cost of Rs. 4,070.

The Kurin Aeos in comparison retails for Rs. 29,999, has a multi-directional, 360 degree Shibaura motor, has precision laser sensors to monitor temperature, humidity and PM 2.5 levels, can be controlled via an app and has a CADR rating of 620 cubic meters per hour.

For those looking for a smaller device for a smaller room, there is the Kurin Venti which retails for Rs. 8,999 and has a CADR of 200 cubic meters per hour. If you're needs are much larger however, there is the appropriately named Kurin Zeus, which has all the smarts of Aeos and comes with a CADR of 1000 cubic meters per hour. The Zeus retails for Rs. 99,999.

The world's first portable air purifier
One of the most interesting devices from Kurin's portfolio is the atom. A pocket-sized air purifier meant to be taken on the go. It can be attached to a mask or powered through a cord in your car. It has a 2200mAh battery which can last up to 8 hours and can charge in 45 minutes. It also comes with the HEPA H13 filter and has a CADR rating of 65 cubic meters per hour. Pavneet sees it as an answer to the need for protection from pollutants while on the move, "The whole purpose was to have a portable HEPA or High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter enabled device that you can take with you while on the move, it's the size of a mobile phone and fits into your pocket or plugs into your car charger making it the ultimate air pollutant combat tool."

The myths surrounding air purification
"One of the first things I hear people saying when mentioning air purifiers is that our immunity levels will drop," laughs Pavneet "That's like a saying between a person who smokes a lot and one that smokes occasionally, the guy who smokes more will be healthier." Indeed, one of the stigmas attached to air purification, in general, is the lack of seriousness towards the crisis. In June of 2016, IITM scientists in collaboration with NACR or National Centre for Atmospheric Research concluded that life expectancy had dropped by 6 years in the capital, the reports from rest of the cities weren't rosy either with PM 2.5 accounting for an average of 13.5 percent drop in life expectancy around the country. "The basic filter that we have in our bodies, which is the alveoli in our lungs, needs to regenerate. So, the amount of time you spend in front of an air purifier becomes important, you are allowing your body to recuperate," explains Pavneet.

With most of the country asleep to the threat of PM 2.5 and PM 10, air purifiers as a market hasn't really blossomed in the consumer space as of yet. Then there is the problem of air purifiers that are suited to the climate we inhabit, whether we like it or not, we have screwed up our atmosphere enough to warrant an air purifier in our homes, we did this to ourselves and now we have to embrace technology to give us back those years we have withered away.