Developed by David Benjamin and Soo-in Yang, River Glow is a system of floating pods that monitors water quality and displays a variable light signal that is visible from the water or onshore. Each unit consists of an underwater pH probe, super bright LEDs, uncoated fiber-optic strands, and photovoltaics that provide power to rechargeable batteries. When deployed in public waterways, the system creates an ethereal cloud of light hovering above the water’s surface that changes colors according to the condition of the water.
The system is energy self-sufficient, low-cost, modular, and easy to deploy, offering an alternative to expensive and time-consuming testing of water samples in a remote research laboratory. The component system allows for swapping of alternative energy-harvesting devices, water-quality sensors, and low-energy lighting or actuators.