Love the idea of swimming in a fresh pool on a hot summer day, but don’t like the idea of swimming in something over-chlorinated or possibly full of bacteria? There’s a new Bluetooth-enabled pool maintenance sensor called pHin that will check the chemicals and tell you when the pool is ready for you to take that plunge.
The oblong-shaped pHin device continuously monitors a pool’s water chemistry and then tells you on a smartphone app when it’s safe to get in. All you have to do is plop pHin into the water and add a few water-soluble packets that come with the device, according to your pools needs.
Other automatic pool chemical systems can cost around $500 to $1,200 to install. Sutro’s connected pool chemical system will also monitor the pool on your smartphone for $229 if you pre-order. However, pHin comes with a subscription service that starts at $149 for three months. The premeasured, color-coded chemical pods show up at your door, ready to drop into the pool, just like you would with a Tide pod, as needed.
pHin co-founder Justin Miller, who previously worked for Comcast, came up with the idea for a connected pool chemical monitoring system last summer while barbecuing in a neighbor’s backyard.
“I was looking at the pool, and the Internet of Things was on my mind because of what I was working on for Comcast Xfinity Home,” Miller said. “Pool and hot tub owners spend a great deal of time taking water samples, testing the chemistry, comparing to a color chart, calculating the amount of chemicals needed. It’s a complicated process. I realized I could take out the complication with a connected pool device.”
That same neighbor with the pool, Mark Janes, became Miller’s business partner and the two started the ConnectedYard, a startup that aims to create Bluetooth-enabled hardware devices to monitor things in your backyard, beginning with the pool.
Backed with about $200,000 in seed by Tandem Capital, pHin is the first product from the startup. And pools are likely a good place to start for the connected backyard. Pool season is just starting to heat up, and there are more than 21 million people with pools or hot tubs across in the U.S. Miller estimates that about 75 percent of these pool and hot tub owners perform the maintenance themselves.
The connected part also makes it pretty easy for an owner. You don’t have to check physically if the pool is ready; you just pull up an app on your smartphone to test the pool temperature, PH, chlorine, alkalinity, water hardness and cyanuric acid. The app will also tell you when to add more pods to the pool when needed.
Should you need more than just some pods, pHin offers on-demand pool cleaners or a pump repair person who will show up and take care of your pool or hot tub for a fee.
pHin is only available to order on the website for now, and won’t ship until the first part of 2016, though Miller said he was in talks with several physical stores and hot tub manufacturers who may be able to offer the device and service for purchase in the future.