Product Launch: Low-Cost Online Monitor for Hydroponics and Aquaponics

Osmo Systems, makers of low-cost online monitors for hydroponics and aquaponics, has surpassed its funding goal on Kickstarter.

​​Founded by hydroponics and aquaponics enthusiasts, Osmo Systems Inc. launched their first product, OsmoBot, a low-cost online monitor for hydroponics and aquaponics, on Kickstarter earlier this month.  Starting at just $450, each Wi-Fi enabled monitor comes with all of the sensors necessary to monitor water, environmental, and light quality in hydroponics, aquaponics and aquaculture. 

The base package, OsmoBot Hydro, includes Osmo System's Wi-Fi enabled monitor and the following sensors: pH, TDS, water temperature, water level, air temperature, relative humidity, lux, and PAR. Aquaponics and aquaculturists can upgrade their OsmoBot by adding Osmo Systems' Aqua sensor, a low-cost, patent-pending continuous dissolved oxygen and ammonia sensor. Base packages are now going for $500 on Kickstarter with packages that include the Aqua upgrade priced at $650. 

"Overall from Stuppy's and my own perspective, OsmoBot's sensing unit appears to be a highly functional sensing product we can offer to our customers at a reasonable cost."

Conor Q, CEA System Engineer, Stuppy Inc.

OsmoBot arrives factory calibrated and ready to go out of the box. Installation is fast and once connected to the cloud via Wi-Fi or ethernet, OsmoBot uploads readings every 15 minutes. Users can access their readings from an online dashboard to see real time data, track historical trends, and set text/email alerts for when something goes wrong.

Founders Zach Stein, Paul Holowko, and James Regulinski founded Osmo Systems because they couldn't find anything like OsmoBot on the market. Existing monitoring systems either had the right sensors, but didn't connect online, or connected online, but didn't offer all of the sensors they needed. And all of them were more expensive than most small - medium growers could afford. 

So in building OsmoBot, the trio laid out three design goals: "Everything you need to monitor your hydroponic or aquaponic system. In one box. At the right price."

The company has spent a long time working towards these goals. Zach Stein and Paul Holowko founded Osmo Systems in 2013 and built their first prototypes. After iterating on a few of them, the pair realized they needed a mechanical engineer to help build some of their custom sensors (EC/TDS, lux/PAR, DO/ammonia) and they added James Regulinski to the team in 2015. The company launched their beta test over the summer of 2016, when they shipped over 60 beta units to farmers, hobbyists, and universities, in the US and internationally. Here's what a few of them had to say about OsmoBot: 

  • Conor Q. of Stuppy Inc“Overall from Stuppy’s and my own perspective, OsmoBot’s sensing unit appears to be a highly functional sensing product we can offer to our customers at a reasonable cost.” 
  • Mark H. “I actually changed when I run my flood cycles and when I add my nutrient solution… because I can watch the nutrient levels gradually go down throughout the day.”
  • ​Nathan K. "I've been beta testing the OsmoBot for about 4 months so far and I've been really happy with the product… OsmoBot eliminates the stress of speculating how my system is doing while I'm away.”

Outside of their low price point, Osmo Systems' greatest innovation lies in their Aqua sensor. Any aquaponics or RAS aquaculturist will tell you that dissolved oxygen and ammonia are two of the most important water quality parameters to monitor, but that they are also two of the most expensive. An online monitor plus reliable, long-lasting sensors can cost a farmer $3,000+ per tank...​ 

Relying upon optical, instead of electrical signals, Osmo Systems' sensor, Aqua, reads dissolved oxygen and ammonia from photo-chemical sensor patches. This not only costs far less than existing probes, but provides more stable readings over-time, as the sensor patches are built to withstand harsh environments for long periods without needing to be replaced or recalibrated. 

Following the campaign and the release of the Aqua sensors, Osmo Systems plans to add plug-and-play, low-cost automation hardware to OsmoBot. This will allow growers to automatically turn on and off pumps, fans, and other equipment to keep their system balanced. All units purchased during the campaign will be compatible with the automation hardware. 

You can learn more by visiting Osmo Systems' Kickstarter page. Their campaign will run until 10am PST on December 1st, 2016. 

Source: Osmo Systems Inc.

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