Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Education & Training
Education Training
Field Portable Smartphone Device for Water Quality Monitoring
WiSys: T150032US02

Inventors: Michael Zorn

WiSys is seeking strategic partners interested in further developing this portable water quality measuring technology for application-specific or broader based commercialization.
Currently, water quality monitoring is done by scientists at universities or government agencies who either collect samples in the field and transport them to stationary laboratories for analysis or install a relatively small number of expensive in-situ sensors for data collection. The lack of portability, high cost and long processing time of these options serve as barriers that prohibit broader groups of people from gathering real-time water quality data for addressing a wide variety of issues such as tourism, agriculture, commercial fishing, drinking water, and more.
The Invention
A University of Wisconsin-Green Bay professor of chemistry has developed a portable, accurate, low cost, smartphone-based analytical device for the field-measurement and geographical mapping of environmentally relevant water quality parameters. In its current embodiment, the device is a colorimeter for measuring absorbance that includes a visible light source with onboard power, imaging filters, a sample cuvette, and a mounting mechanism for attachment to a smartphone or tablet. An accompanying app is used to record camera images of samples and convert them to numerical absorbance data for analysis. The app will be further developed to allow integration with an online ArcGIS platform for uploading and mapping the data.
  • Water quality monitoring in the field;
  • Rural home drinking water testing;
  • Education – university, high school, middle school;
  • Academic research;
  • Industrial wastewater process monitoring;
  • Law enforcement – field drug testing;
  • Beverage industry – color and turbidity monitoring;
  • Health diagnostics – urine color analysis;
  • Citizen science projects.
Key Benefits
  • Field portable;
  • Low cost – target price of less than $100;
  • Compatible with a broad range of smartphones and tablets;
  • Simple design;
  • Facilitates crowdsourcing of scientific data; less reliance on large agencies for data;
  • App-based data collection;
  • GPS mapping capability;
  • Allows use of high-quality smartphone cameras;
  • Accuracy comparable with more expensive, stationary laboratory instruments.
Stage of Development
A prototype of the device has been shown to work for absorbance measurement of colored solutions and for determining iron and ammonia in water. The prototype has compared well with more costly, commercially available research-grade instruments for these applications. A preliminary fluorescence experiment has also been conducted. Continued development for measuring fluorescence and turbidity and further app refinement is underway.
For current licensing status, please contact Jennifer Souter at [javascript protected email address] or (608) 316-4131