MindStream Monitors, Tracks and Stores 10 Aquarium Water Parameters
Tom Spendlove posted on August 14, 2015 |
Step Ahead Innovations seeks funding for aquarium water monitoring system with Kickstarter campaign.

James Clark was an aquarium enthusiast who experienced several losses of fish and contemplated quitting the hobby. Over the last five years he's developed MindStream, a real time aquarium monitor that tracks and records ten different water parameters for saltwater tanks. Alkalinity, calcium, magnesium, pH, carbon dioxide, salinity, temperature, ammonia, oxygen and potassium levels are all monitored and tracked with MindStream.

Clark teamed with analytical chemist Giuseppe Petrucci, Brian Degen and Matthew Bean to develop the product, and their first patent was awarded in August 2014. MindStream monitors the tank with one device instead of ten separate devices that were fifty years old, expensive and not always accurate.

Data is taken every twenty minutes, and the MindStream app can access the data and look at one instant or track parameters over time. The app allows the user to set ranges for each parameter and alert the user when one of the limits is breached. A sensor disc inside the monitor needs to be replaced every thirty days to ensure accurate data is gathered. The monitor does not need to be calibrated, and is installed with a magnetic base attached to the outside of the tank.

One critical decision in the development of MindStream happened when the team was inspired to use advanced fluorescence and colorimetric sensor technology. The rotating disc houses the sensors, and optical measurement circuits quantify the fluorescent response of the indicator dyes in the sensors.

Research is still being done on nitrate levels and the best method for measurement. The team has made good progress in freshwater tanks and saltwater development is a high development priority. Design challenges have included material selection to find plastics that would stay functional after years of saltwater submersion and finding the right laser bonding methods to protect the interior components from saltwater. The wireless power adapter was optimized to work through different tank wall thicknesses, and the fluorescent dyes and optic filters were developed to minimize sensor interference and reading drift.

James says that in ten years people will be much more aware of water chemistry and the characteristics required to sustain marine life. MindStream is intended to take care of the fish we have and eliminate the need to go into the oceans and obtain more sealife and coral. Monitoring aquariums in this way is fantastic and this technology feels like something that could be scaled up to observe ocean water quality as well. The Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign ends September 6, 2015.

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