The OASIS (On-site Aquatic Safety Inspection System) has been created by Team Bath Biodevices without Borders, which is a Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) group at Bath University.
OASIS is said to combine innovative water diagnostic and GPS technology to carry out rapid water quality analysis and plot the results to a global map.
When dipped in water, the device determines the quality and safety of the water by using a series of small electrochemical sensors to detect a range of contaminants, including chlorides, fluorides, and nitrates, as well as its pH level, temperature and turbidity.
Results are then displayed on the device, and if a smartphone is connected, it can be uploaded and shared online.
The team recently drew on Bath’s links with Stellenbosch University in South Africa to field test OASIS and then explore how the device could be integrated into local communities to enable safe water consumption and monitoring.
According to team leader Alexz Farrall, the project aims to inform and give opportunities to those who may be unaware of contaminated water sources, while enabling students to build practical skills that can benefit global communities.
“We are creating an innovative and genuinely useable device that, with some further development, could really make an impact on water safety and water scarcity,” he said in a statement. “The OASIS uses affordable sensors to enable rapid detection of several chemical markers, doing analysis that would otherwise take hours in a lab. When you submerge the device in water, it can instantly give feedback on how clean and drinkable a water source is. Combined with GPS technology, it can empower users to be aware of how harmful or safe a water source is and share it with their community.
Farrall continued: “This could work in areas where water is scarce, potentially contaminated, or where agricultural work can cause quite rapid changes to water quality. It can provide a form of immediate detection of risks, or for situations such as a Cholera outbreak.”
While portable water sensors have previously been developed, the OASIS device’s distinction lies in its affordability and integration of technologies. By designing cheap and reliable sensors and making their project open-source, the team aims to work with NGOs to bring the device into full production and make it available in areas where they operate.
Farrall said: “One of the key issues we’re focusing on is how to provide a useful and usable data infrastructure alongside strong capability and detail.
“Longer-term, you could use different attachments to have the sensors monitor every tap, pipe, or river to increase awareness and more quickly determine outbreaks or contaminant sources.”
The team now plans to make the device more efficient and affordable, adding greater sensitivity and detection towards a range of contaminants. The Biodevices team is looking also to bring their device to production through collaborations with industrial partners or further funders and sponsors.