This robot photographer will also keep your fish tank clean

Alphr Kickstarter of the week: MOAI

As anyone who has ever wandered around the Sealife Centre taking snaps will tell you, taking pictures of fish is hard. There are two reasons for that: the thick layer of glass dividing you from the fish, and the thick layer of grime making things hard to focus. Fish are essentially pretty mucky.

What if I told you there was a Kickstarter campaign going on right now that would fix both of these problems?

What is MOAI?

Rediscover Aquarium

MOAI is, as the company’s industrial designer Yoon Hoon tells me via email, “Roomba + Go Pro for aquarists.”

What does that mean? Well, MOAI is a robot that sits on the glass of your fish tank. It has a built-in 1080p 120° wide-angle camera that can live-stream all the action from your fish tank, and take snaps from within the tank. And as it goes about its travels – either automated by itself or controlled via an app – it will clean muck from the glass leaving your tank in pristine condition. It has a half hour battery life, and it will return to its dock to recharge when it’s content with a job well done.

The version you can back on Kickstarter now is the eighth iteration of the device, which has been in development for two years. The previous version, Hoon tells me, was designed for 8-15mm glass, but they now have a Plus version which works on glass of up to 20mm thickness. This was a smart move: “According to our funding progress, more than half of pledge comes from the Plus version,” explains Hoon.

It’s apparently quiet enough not to disturb the fishy residents as it goes about its business. They’re “usually not interested in the robot,” Hoon says. Though “sometimes they will go for the algae the brush has collected.”

Why should I care?

Do you have fish? If not, then you probably shouldn’t care.

If you do have fish, however, this is a robot that will clean your tank AND take photos of your piscine friends at the same time. What’s not to love?

How much and when would I get it?

Unfortunately, as anybody who has ever bought a robot vacuum cleaner will tell you, this kind of technology doesn’t come cheap – especially when you need to throw in clever camera tech which can survive the depths of your fish tank. Right now, the cheapest price you can pay to get a MOAI is $199 (~£148) – a 33% saving on its predicted final RRP. If you have thicker glass, you’ll need the Plus model which goes for $219 (~£163).

Whichever model you get, you’re looking at a delivery date of May 2018 – which happens to tie in with my birthday. Too bad I don’t have any fish, really.

Is there anything else like MOAI out there?

There are robots for cleaning aquariums (such as the £250 RoboSnail), and there are cameras for streaming your tank (like the £150 Reef Cam). But until now, never the twain have met.

How risky is backing MOAI?

kickstarter_of_the_week_moai_aquarium_robot_2As ever with crowdfunding, there is no such thing as a guaranteed product. The end result may not be what’s promised, might never see the light of day, or might disappoint in another way. Only pay what you can afford to lose.

MOAI is the company’s first Kickstarter, but the fact that they have worked through eight prototypes is encouraging. They’ve also raised over $90,000 of their $30,000 goal, so they shouldn’t be underfunded. It’s hard to give any hard and fast reassurances, but these are both excellent signs.

Back MOAI on Kickstarter

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