Automated Testing

Mutchinator

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Moved from here.
While I agree that drop based testing is the gold standard - we also should consider the fact that “smart pools” are here and automated testing is the next logical step. I have not had a chance to test this yet but likely going to try. Since I pay next to nothing for pool chems [ie SWG (water softener salt), borax, calcium chloride, etc] - I don’t mind investing in some innovative tech which may be of value.

Granted testing only takes a few minutes - but if Sutro can provide accurate results then that is less time I need to spend testing my water. Whether it’s Sutro or someone else - we will see offerings which use machine learning, analytics, etc - to prescribe what to do for the user as opposed to the user reading a test result and tell them to add this or add that. Being able to predict a water balance issue would also be valuable - the more users, the more data and the smarter the offering becomes.

I do water testing because I need to - but there are many others things I would rather do. Manual water testing will go by the way of the slide rule at some point - the internet of things is now touching pool chemistry and there are some pretty great benefits as it gains adoption and maturity.

Just my 2 cents.
 
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JoyfulNoise

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Sutro has been around for a couple of years now. The tech is nothing more than an ORP/pH/Temp probe floating in the water. TFP has discussed ORP for over a decade now, it simply is not worth the hassle. These “smart pool monitors” all say the same thing - “our product will revolutionize pool care!” Fact is, none of them (Sutro, pHin, Water Guru) have even come close. Pentair also markets a probe based water monitor as well as probe based dosing systems. They all over promise and underperform. Typically these systems simply shift the burden of having to do daily/weekly testing to having to do daily/weekly tweaking of the equipment. None of them measure FC directly so you are always left wondering - “is what this system telling me an accurate representation of my water’s sanitation level?” I can give you an exact answer to that question with one set of reagent based tests. These other systems leave you scratching your head to wonder.

simply put - not ready for prime time.
 

Mutchinator

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I’m not saying Sutro is “the one” but it is coming and I would say within a very short number of years - hand testing will be as reliable as automated testing. The latter will indeed give you tons of opportunity to leverage data - I work in the IoT space and automating water testing and using data science to drive decisions is a matter of time.

We likely won’t see a traditional poool equipment coming lowly Pentair develop a solution like this - unless they acquire someone like Sutro and throw more $ behind the dev. I can see the disruption coming from smaller agile companies like Sutro. I don’t know but I’m guessing they are a bunch of engineers, chemists and data scientists…the value is in the data; taking the knowledge of folks like you and leveraging the cloud to deliver value to the consumer.

Sutro actually used Lamotte reagents - no ORP or pH probes I do not believe. It like works in a similar manner to pool store testers with optical sensors for color registration.
 

Donldson

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Perhaps some people are excited to go back to the "add this and don't think about it" pool store model, but I doubt most of them are members of this site. Manual water testing isn't going anywhere, anyone who thinks that isn't paying attention to the dearth of new technology on the consumer market. If all someone's seen is that a bunch of "smart" testing devices are hitting the market and is taking that to mean technology is advancing, then they've been bamboozled. These new devices are all the same and all based on decades old sensors and probes. They are extremely limited and then expect users to use test strips to make up for those limitations. As Matt said, they just don't give consistently accurate data and I've consistently referred to them as overpriced thermometers since that's typically the only consistently reliable thing on them.

The day may come when residential systems are available that can accurately measure levels and dose chemicals. That day is unlikely to be soon, and the day that's available at a price that doesn't rival that of the pool itself is even further down the road. Buying grad student "get rich quick" projects isn't going to make that day come any faster.
 

Dave1096

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Jun 7, 2020
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Sutro has been around for a couple of years now. The tech is nothing more than an ORP/pH/Temp probe floating in the water. TFP has discussed ORP for over a decade now, it simply is not worth the hassle.
I don't think Sutro uses ORP, it uses reagent testing. I believe they may have been initially when the launched but changed their technology due to the limitations of ORP.

 
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Mutchinator

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I hear you and don’t disagree. But markets are not moving slowly like they have in the past. Companies are innovating. Companies are disrupting. Many fail but the ones who succeed are going to change the game. Take a look at what Waze did for the market. It’s the data of millions of users which is the key.

Forums such as TFP won’t go away - we still have BBS servers out there as well :)

We are thinking linearly - but things are moving at an exponential pace.

People want to enjoy their pool - not spend time on forums, testing their water and running to the pool store. There will be technology in the next 2-3 years that will turn the industry on its head - IMO
 

Donldson

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I can't take anyone seriously when every one of their posts sounds like a marketing major trying to sell to investors. ''Companies are disrupting"? Give me a break. :LOL:

If you really believe this magical tech will exist in 2-3 years, then you're welcome to believe that. There's nothing to base that kind of prediction on though. The CLOUD™ doesn't test water, you can't brute force a sensor in to existence by throwing processing power at it.
 

Dave1096

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Jun 7, 2020
136
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The day may come when residential systems are available that can accurately measure levels and dose chemicals. That day is unlikely to be soon, and the day that's available at a price that doesn't rival that of the pool itself is even further down the road. Buying grad student "get rich quick" projects isn't going to make that day come any faster.
I'm much more bullish on the rapid advancement of this type of technology. Working in the data center industry and seeing the massive tidal wave of data that continues to grow and how companies like mine and our customers are working feverishly to harness that data for AI, machine learning, predictive analytics, etc. It's the future, and I don't feel it's nearly as far away as you do.
 

Mutchinator

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Perhaps some people are excited to go back to the "add this and don't think about it" pool store model, but I doubt most of them are members of this site. Manual water testing isn't going anywhere, anyone who thinks that isn't paying attention to the dearth of new technology on the consumer market. If all someone's seen is that a bunch of "smart" testing devices are hitting the market and is taking that to mean technology is advancing, then they've been bamboozled. These new devices are all the same and all based on decades old sensors and probes. They are extremely limited and then expect users to use test strips to make up for those limitations. As Matt said, they just don't give consistently accurate data and I've consistently referred to them as overpriced thermometers since that's typically the only consistently reliable thing on them.

The day may come when residential systems are available that can accurately measure levels and dose chemicals. That day is unlikely to be soon, and the day that's available at a price that doesn't rival that of the pool itself is even further down the road. Buying grad student "get rich quick" projects isn't going to make that day come any faster.
How long ago did people think Elon Musk was insane for his “self driving car” or “sending people to the moon in a reusable and self landing rocket”? Consider the level of investment to get to where those two “ideas” are today. Consider the massive regulation and other social and technical barriers to bring these to scale.

Now consider the dinosaur pool owner market. 99% of people are buying “pool chemicals” and I imagine pool stores are pretty profitable in season. These companies or technologies may not be targeting folks like you or me - I’m and engineer and IT professional and I see these disruptive ideas all the time.

Odds are companies like Sutro drive adoption and ARR (annual recurring revenue) through both their subscription model in addition to tapping into the existing pool store channel. That’s my guess - they partner with stores to help automate delivery of the pool chems.

So while folks like you and I would likely never buy “traditional” pool chems - I’m guessing we would both see value if there were an appropriately priced solution which produced accurate test results. Then tack on the ability to leverage the data in ways we likely are not considering.
 

JoyfulNoise

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My mistake. Sutro uses optical detection.

pHin and Pentair use ORP. WaterGuru uses DPD pads. They all use sensors to “read” the color changes or voltage changes and they all, so far, do a terrible job of it. We’ve had several users on TFP return their Water Guru’s because the FC was several ppm off. I doubt Sutro does any better. Garbage data in, garbage results out. Increasing the amount of garbage data doesn’t make the results more accurate. These sensors will never be able to deliver on their promises at the price-point consumers will expect. Manufacturing corners will have to be cut and that will drive failure and inaccuracy.

And let’s be honest, they don’t make money by selling you the WiFi testing toy. They make money selling you the chemical service and overpriced chemical packs. It’s nothing more than the pool store sales philosophy with a “tech” edge to it.

I too have been around the IoT world and worked for a Fortune 50 tech company (one of the original tech behemoths) for over 15 years. Same story over and over again, we will revolutionize the world in the next 5 years … same results - businesses still prefer the same mainframe technology from the 1980’s to run their zero-downtime-required businesses. I personally could care less if my refrigerator can connect to the internet and control my landscape lighting and tell me what the Dow Jones is doing. It’s primary job is to keep my food from spoiling. And I bet in the grand scheme of things, there are way more people out there that care about their pools just being a sanitary bucket of water to swim in on a hot day rather than some tricked out piece of tech that can be controlled from the International Space Station generating reams of output data for some AI to analyze.

But hey, no need to mind me, go buy a Sutro and see how utterly unconnected and underwhelming it all is.

And as for Elon Musk - I’ll not think so poorly of him when he pays me back for the self- driving Tesla that rear ended and destroyed my wife’s Toyota while it was parked in my kids school parking lot …
 
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Mutchinator

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Jun 7, 2017
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I can't take anyone seriously when every one of their posts sounds like a marketing major trying to sell to investors. ''Companies are disrupting"? Give me a break. :LOL:

If you really believe this magical tech will exist in 2-3 years, then you're welcome to believe that. There's nothing to base that kind of prediction on though. The CLOUD™ doesn't test water, you can't brute force a sensor in to existence by throwing processing power at it.
I feel you missed the point that this is happening. I work and live in this space - and apparently others on this thread do as well. I see it every day. It’s funny that most people don’t even realize what the Cloud is…and it’s not trademarked btw. :)

I’m not asking you to take me seriously - you don’t need to. Because I know what I know. There are 10 million private and 500k public pools. And most owners are naive - in either case it’s a massive market to tap.

Are you still sweeping your pool and using a skimmer/suction vac? Kidding…but I’m sure you appreciate tossing and robotic vac into your pool and drinking a cold bev :)
 

Mutchinator

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My mistake. Sutro uses optical detection.

pHin and Pentair use ORP. WaterGuru uses DPD pads. They all use sensors to “read” the color changes or voltage changes and they all, so far, do a terrible job of it. We’ve had several users on TFP return their Water Guru’s because the FC was several ppm off. I doubt Sutro does any better. Garbage data in, garbage results out. Increasing the amount of garbage data doesn’t make the results more accurate. These sensors will never be able to deliver on their promises at the price-point consumers will expect. Manufacturing corners will have to be cut and that will drive failure and inaccuracy.

And let’s be honest, they don’t make money by selling you the WiFi testing toy. They make money selling you the chemical service and overpriced chemical packs. It’s nothing more than the pool store sales philosophy with a “tech” edge to it.

I too have been around the IoT world and worked for a Fortune 50 tech company (one of the original tech behemoths) for over 15 years. Same story over and over again, we will revolutionize the world in the next 5 years … same results - businesses still prefer the same mainframe technology from the 1980’s to run their zero-downtime-required businesses. I personally could care less if my refrigerator can connect to the internet and control my landscape lighting and tell me what the Dow Jones is doing. It’s primary job is to keep my food from spoiling. And I bet in the grand scheme of things, there are way more people out there that care about their pools just being a sanitary bucket of water to swim in on a hot day rather than some tricked out piece of tech that can be controlled from the International Space Station generating reams of output data for some AI to analyze.

But hey, no need to mind me, go buy a Sutro and see how utterly unconnected and underwhelming it all is.

And as for Elon Musk - I’ll not think so poorly of him when he pays me back for the self- driving Tesla that rear ended and destroyed my wife’s Toyota while it was parked in my kids school parking lot …
We definitely agree that tech can be misplaced for sure. I bought new kitchen appliances - and knowing my fridge filter needs to be replaced doesn’t excite me lol

This is a healthy conversation I feel - I really hate testing my water because I am always balancing ten other things between work, family and life. But it’s quick and actually assuring to see everything is in check.

As for Musk - yes there are indeed failures. But I also see them landing a rocket on platform only to see it explode into oblivion. They learn and adapt - how future rockets land flawlessly.

That said - no way in heck I am ready for a self driving car. :)
 
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Kslay0721

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Mine arrives Tuesday (don’t kick me out TFP peeps, I promise to only use my Taylor test kit results in any posts 🤪).

I do still plan to use my test kit on a regular basis. I’m currently trying to build and strengthen my pool maintenance habits/routine. I tend to lose focus so this is just an additional tool I plan to use.

I’ll let you know my experience! The nice thing is they have a 1 year “no questions asked” money back guarantee. So if it’s a dud, I’ll just return it 🤷🏼‍♀️.
 

Dave1096

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Jun 7, 2020
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Mine arrives Tuesday (don’t kick me out TFP peeps, I promise to only use my Taylor test kit results in any posts 🤪).

I do still plan to use my test kit on a regular basis. I’m currently trying to build and strengthen my pool maintenance habits/routine. I tend to lose focus so this is just an additional tool I plan to use.

I’ll let you know my experience! The nice thing is they have a 1 year “no questions asked” money back guarantee. So if it’s a dud, I’ll just return it 🤷🏼‍♀️.
Will you post your results here? I would love to see some data on how Sutro's measurements compare with your own testing (TF-100?). I plan to continue to test manually and follow TFPC guidelines as well; it's worked out great for me so far. However, other than the past 15 months I typically travel 60-75% for work, and if this product can make it easier to know if my pool is staying within TFPC ranges while I'm gone that can only be a good thing in my mind. Like you said, hopefully the potential is there for it to be another tool in our toolbox
 

joboo7777

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I hear you and don’t disagree. But markets are not moving slowly like they have in the past. Companies are innovating. Companies are disrupting. Many fail but the ones who succeed are going to change the game. Take a look at what Waze did for the market. It’s the data of millions of users which is the key.

Forums such as TFP won’t go away - we still have BBS servers out there as well :)

We are thinking linearly - but things are moving at an exponential pace.

People want to enjoy their pool - not spend time on forums, testing their water and running to the pool store. There will be technology in the next 2-3 years that will turn the industry on its head - IMO
I completely agree with you in this. It’s only a matter of time before these young innovative companies develop a reliable, consistent product that takes human error out of the mix and gives the gift of time back to you, the pool owner.

What I am surprised at is Taylor’s lack of innovation in the automated testing space. I’m sure some of their hesitation is around economics of it and how it will Impact their current drop test business(which is huge). Hopefully we will see them enter this space soon.
 

Kslay0721

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Will you post your results here? I would love to see some data on how Sutro's measurements compare with your own testing (TF-100?).
Yes!! Im using the FAS DPD K-2006 (need to update my signature).

I will post my own TF test results first and then follow up with a screen shot of what the Sutro is reading. That way I’m not subconsciously favoring or second guessing my test results in favor of the Sutro (because I want this thing to be accurate so dang bad 😂😂)
 

cledee

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Yeah, I'm not willing to be a guinea pig again. The pool companies got me once. I don't want to give someone else my money for guessing. I agree that there's innovation, unfortunately when it comes to automatic pool water testing, we are still many years away.

All of these current products are betas, but they get released to the public like a finished product that will take care of their water testing.
 
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cledee

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How long ago did people think Elon Musk was insane for his “self driving car” or “sending people to the moon in a reusable and self landing rocket”? Consider the level of investment to get to where those two “ideas” are today. Consider the massive regulation and other social and technical barriers to bring these to scale.

Now consider the dinosaur pool owner market. 99% of people are buying “pool chemicals” and I imagine pool stores are pretty profitable in season. These companies or technologies may not be targeting folks like you or me - I’m and engineer and IT professional and I see these disruptive ideas all the time.

Odds are companies like Sutro drive adoption and ARR (annual recurring revenue) through both their subscription model in addition to tapping into the existing pool store channel. That’s my guess - they partner with stores to help automate delivery of the pool chems.

So while folks like you and I would likely never buy “traditional” pool chems - I’m guessing we would both see value if there were an appropriately priced solution which produced accurate test results. Then tack on the ability to leverage the data in ways we likely are not considering.
So basically, the pool stores who have no incentive to provide you with accurate test results will now work with these companies that want a subscription base. You don't see how Sutro or any of these companies would want to make you purchase more chemicals as they would probably get a cut. I'm in the tech world as well and none of these products, based on user experience work. Everyone ends up going back to manual testing. I just don't think there's enough people with pools for this to be a product that would make companies real money. That's why they sell you products that have many parts and you have to reinvest on replacement cartridges, ect.

They can't even make PH meters that work for more than 1 month without needing to be calibrated and at that point, you are taking a chance that the meter is working properly or not.
 
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JoyfulNoise

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Katodude

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Sooooo

Interesting reading. More automated pool testing in coming, and probably sooner than we think. There is a subset of us here toying with more and better automation. Right now we have pH pretty dialed in (not that is a big deal). The industrial pH probes we are using can go months without calibration and give a very accurate real time reading. Again old news there are many systems out there that do that.

The next piece is we are stalking a decent FC sensor (not ORP but real FC). They are out there and they are dropping in price. We saw one recently on for around $300, but non of us have taken the plunge yet. But I suspect one of us will pick it up soon and start messing around with it. We will probably be disappointed but new and better ones are going to be around the corner.

Once I have real time (or near time) FC and pH testing that and have automation to adjust to either of those things life much easier. Not that testing is that hard, and I probably will still manually dose my pool if I detect an anomaly.
 
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