The pitch in the Ocean Startup Challenge seemed to go OK last week, and fortunately the judges did not ask any really difficult questions. I wasn't expecting to be one of the top 10 companies, but was still kind of eager to find out the results. On Monday evening my phone rang while I was driving into town to pickup Kirsten from cross country practice. I pulled over and took the call, and was quite excited to find out that In Nature Robotics was one of the winners! As I found out just today when the official announcement was made, there were actually 14 winners chosen, so probably good for me that they decided to pick 40% extra! For a video and list of the winners, check out this link: https://www.oceanstartupchallenge.ca/announcements/. I also did a telephone interview with a fisheries / ocean tech journalist who writes for https://www.saltwire.com/, so there should be a story about me, In Nature Robotics, and AMOS appearing there soon. (EDIT: Here is the link to the story: https://www.saltwire.com/business/local-business/video-cod-collagen-project-and-a-boat-called-amos-east-coast-entrepreneurs-among-winners-of-ocean-startup-challenge-504940/)
The funding from the contest will be used to build a 4th prototype version of AMOS that will be a hybrid between the previous catamaran and surfboard versions. This time I would like to first make a silicone mold and then try using a two-part foam with that. I would also like to construct it so that the electronics boxes are mostly hidden away within the hull, in order to cut down on wind resistance as much as possible, and make things look a bit neater. I would also like to get some other people using and testing AMOS, to get their feedback and criticisms, and last I'm hoping to do a bit of R&D to work on adding some tech for discrete sample collection and underwater video.
I'll find out more details about the Ocean Startup program and funding next week. In the mean time I'm working on creating a 3D-printed container to house a small solenoid valve. It would be used for collecting physical water samples at different depths. I would like to fit a BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) module, some batteries, and a microcontroller in there to allow AMOS to communicate with it wirelessly and tell it to open its inlet valve after a certain length of time. Then AMOS could lower the bottle into the water on a rope to the required depth and wait for the valve to open for a few seconds before pulling the bottle up again. A fancier version might also include a pressure sensor to allow the valve to open at a pre-determined depth.