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History of WaterLily

We at the team thought that the best way to introduce our blog series would be through a brief history of how WaterLily came to be.

WaterLily is developed by Seaformatics – A Canadian company that specializes in hydro-power solutions for commercial and consumer markets. We’re based in Canada’s windiest city, on an island in the North Atlantic ocean.

When I was in my 20’s, as an eager electrical engineering graduate, I worked for a company that provided oceanographic services. I spent a lot of my time at sea, it was a brutal job here in the harsh North Atlantic. The weather was usually terrible and we were operating hundreds of kilometers from shore. A large part of my role was to deploy equipment below and on the surface of the ocean to collect data for oil industry clients. All of which were powered by batteries that required frequent replacement. At times, we were delayed picking up our gear for weeks by bad weather. That’s if the gear was recovered at all. Empty batteries and lost equipment meant lost data and lost revenue for our company. We made huge sacrifices and took personal risks to gather this data – there had to be a better way. 

My work gave me a renewed respect for the power of the ocean. In 2007 I was approached by Memorial university – Dr. Vlastimil Masek asked me if I’d like to help him develop a power harvesting system that would reduce and perhaps eliminate the regular trips to replace batteries and recover our gear. I jumped on it – after 8 years of research and development, we had our technology and Seaformatics was founded.

Seaformatics Systems Inc. started out to commercialize this technology and we worked on the development of a number of products that incorporated:

  • A patented water turbine that harvests power from ocean currents
  • A sensor interface subsystem for data collection and storage
  • An acoustic modem that enables data communications between units, surface buoys and cellular/satellite network

Seaformatics Buoy
Summer 2014

Seaformatics Platforms
Summer 2014

Seaformatics Turbine
Summer 2014

This all started more than 10 years ago, and since then we’ve completed nearly 1500 days of successful real-world field testing of our subsea systems. We knew that there was huge commercial value to our system for oceanographers, but what if we could scale down the technology for personal use? What if there was a way that we could capture energy from significantly smaller flows, such as river streams or gusty winds?

We ran with these questions, and in early 2017 shared our ideas for WaterLily – a portable turbine that converts moving water or wind into energy for your USB powered devices.

First WaterLily Prototype
Winter 2017

Second WaterLily Prototype
Spring 2017

Third WaterLily Prototype
Summer 2017

WaterLily Final Packaging
Winter 2018

We’ve come a long way over the past 12 months. The team has worked extremely hard to perfect to the design of our product, and we’ve designed and launched our pre-order campaign. We’ve tested countless iterations in both water and wind environments, which combined knowledge gained from Seaformatics with new learning. We’ve closed new investments in the company, increased the size of our team, have been featured by Discovery Channel, and have more than 10 million views of our videos online.

Now in early 2018 we’ve begun shipping WaterLily units worldwide. Our pre-order campaign is coming to a close, and we have customers in 42 countries. We have big plans to further refine the technology behind WaterLily that we’ll be sharing this summer. We’re excited for what’s ahead, and can’t wait to share with you.

Andrew Cook

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