January 31, 2016

This month, we have, I dare say, finished the server side processing code *knocks on wood* The image processing/OCR application we made is now integrated into the server; whenever an image of a water meter is uploaded to the server, the server will analyze it and add its reading to our SQL database. Further, we’ve connected our database to the iOS and Android app dev teams. On both applications, the graph is functional with modifications being added to control the time span through which the graph displays.

On the hardware side of things, we’ve run into a few hiccups that have nudged us to try different platforms, but that’s to be expected. On the up-side, we’ve reduced upload time significantly by switching to FTP, and can now upload an image in around 3 seconds. However, to achieve the reduction in upload time, we had to switch our wifi module to one with an SPI interface. This seems like it should be an easy switch, but our camera also uses SPI and for some reason won’t play nice with other SPI devices. So our current electronics challenge mainly involves re-interfacing the camera with our microcontroller in a way that makes it work with others. On the physical side of design, the enclosure that will attach to the water meter and will house the electronics is nearing completion; it currently sits securely on our water meter. Next steps involve testing waterproofing methods and finishing the electronics housing section.

In designing our product, we keep sustainability at the forefronts of our minds. Our goal is to create a tool that will help the user save water. Our product will consist of an outer waterproof housing and inner electronics purposed to extract and to send data to our servers where it will then be accessible anywhere via our app.

For the outer housing, we are looking into new technologies such as eco-friendly biopolymer based plastics. The outer housing is going to be completely modular, meaning that when it’s time to update the electronics, rather than throwing everything out, the user can simply replace the innards, while keeping the same shell.

Due to the booming smartphone business among other things, the market for compact computing units has exploded. This allows us to acquire parts that are manufactured on a massive scale; mass manufacturing is efficient and guarantees minimal waste. For power, we are currently looking into renewable sources such as solar. The chips in question all have very low power consumption.

Our goal is to make a product that helps people conserve water, while having a low environmental impact.

With the exception of electronics for the final prototype, all necessary items have been purchased. However, we still have yet to spend approximately 44.7% of the post-fellowship grant, or $2,013.54 of the initial $4,500. We’ve fallen 4.7% short of the 60% projected spending benchmark for the end of January.

We are looking forward to presenting our progress at our Mid-Grant Technical Review next month!