Under the impact of global climate changes and human activities, harmful algae blooms (HABs) have become a growing concern due to negative impacts on water related industries, such as safe water supply for fish farmers in aquaculture. The current method of algae identification requires water samples to be sent to a human expert to identify and count all the organisms. Typically this process takes about 1 week, as the water sample must be preserved and then shipped to a lab for analysis. Once at the lab, a human expert must manually look through a microscope, which is both time-consuming and prone to human error. Therefore reliable and cost effective methods of quantifying the type and concentration of algae cells has become critical for ensuring successful water management. Blue Lion Labs, in partnership with the University of Waterloo, is building an innovative system to automatically classify multiple types of algae in-situ and in real-time by using a custom imaging system and deep learning. This will be accomplished using two main steps. First, the technical team will work with an in-house algae expert (a phycologist) to build up a labelled database of images. Second, the research team will design and build a novel neural network architecture to segment and classify the images generated by the imaging system. The result of this proposed research will dramatically reduce the analysis time of a water sample from weeks to hours, and therefore will enable fish farmers to better manage harmful algae blooms.

Industry Partner(s):Blue Lion Labs

Academic Institution:University of Waterloo

Academic Researcher: Wong, Alexander

Focus Areas: AI, Environment & Climate

Platforms: Cloud, GPU