That might be exaggerating a bit…but it’s really really cool that In-Situ, a leading hardware manufacturer with real influence in the environmental industry, is thinking ahead and building cool shit! Not quite like Dr. Evil’s laser-wielding sharks, but pretty damn cool stuff that I was hoping someone would some day build.
Their tool that I am excited about is iSitu, an iPhone app that attaches a frickin’ iPhone to their downhole TROLL multiparameter sensor!
So right from your iPhone you can:
- Calibrate the probe’s sensors
- Set up your interval of time between parameter readings
- Set up stabilization criteria for each parameter (eg, +/- or % of previous reading, etc)
- Take readings at the set time interval automatically, without even having to look at the screen or write anything down (it takes the readings for you)
- Determine stabilization for each parameter (each stabilized parameter is highlighted visually so that you can quickly see the well stabilize over time)
- Dump all your data including sample ID, date/time, and parameter readings quickly to either an uneditable or editable file for further use or inclusion in your sampling report
Innovators think beyond their current product offering and are willing to cannibalize their own stuff.
In March 2012 I attended a Nielsen Environmental Field School conference in Tampa FL. YSI, a leading field equipment company, had a booth exhibiting their products, which compete directly with In-Situ. In fact, I’ve used their 556 MPS multiparameter probe more times than I care to remember. It’s a very solid product, actually. I asked their rep about software on an iPhone that could read values from their sensors, and she thought it was a dumb idea, that it would cannibalize sales of their 556 instrument and would ultimately be a bad deal for YSI.
So I wrote up a blog article about this way back in April 2012, and it seems like In-Situ actually heeded the call, intentionally or not!
Integrating and collaborating with other tools is next
Imagine a field tech on a water sampling event(even in a remote area with absolutely no cell connection) doing the following:
- Pulls out their phone and sets up a low-flow sampling event with iSitu app
- After the well has stabilized, taps on a button labeled “Export to EnviroChain”
- Launches EnviroChain app, starts a CoC, and taps on the “Import from iSitu” button. Sample ID, date/time, and field parameters import directly into EnviroChain, no transcription required.
- When done, taps on the “Notify Lab Courier” button, and puts their iPhone back in their pocket.
- Lab courier appears on site, packs the coolers, field tech and lab courier use their finger to sign/countersign the CoC relinquish/receive signature fields.
- Taps on the “Submit CoC” button, and lab receives data electronically right into their LIMS, a full day before the coolers show up at the lab. PDF copies also sent to the field tech, courier, and lab account manager.
The above scenario is what I envision as the future of field sampling: the use of smartphone and modern technology to get away from using ridiculously antiquated paper-based systems which are prevalent today in our industry, and the use of a full cradle-to-grave electronic system — from field work all the way to reporting — with appropriate automations at each step.
The future is coming, like it or not
Will it really happen? The real question is not will it, it’s when will it. I’m betting on it happening sooner than later, and am actively trying to do something about it.
I may be wrong, but it sure beats clinging onto a paper past.