In an aquarium controller market dominated by a handful of devices from just a few manufacturers, it is extremely hard for a new company to establish its name and to compete with a new, unknown product. Many have tried, most have failed. It’s not because there is some kind of tightly-regulated monopoly where new competitors are swept under the rug, but rather, the existing aquarium “computers”, like Neptune Systems’ Apex, GHL Profilux, and a few others are excellent devices people swear by for functionality and reliability. To achieve any amount of success, a newcomer to the market needs to bring a complete, almost ready to hit the shelves device that’s backed with its own hardware and infrastructure cloud based interface. One such device was presented at MACNA 2017 – it is called EKoral, it comes from Taiwan, and the least I can say about it is- it is really interesting!
In essence, Ekoral looks and operates like any other full-fledged aquarium controller. It has a base unit, called eK Core, to which all the peripherals connect to, a set of probes for measuring pH, temperature, ORP and salinity, a power strip named eK Power 6 with 6 independently controlled, 10Amp rated outlets, and a few accessories like a camera and water level sensor. Ekoral Core is an elegant box with indicator LEDs built in front and all connection ports located on the bottom. It also has built in WiFi and Bluetooth for updates, wireless communication with third party devices, and for syncing with eKoral’s proprietary, cloud-based control platform.
During my conversation with eKoral representatives, I learned that the basic idea behind their product was to invent a controller that eliminates as much programming as possible, has all the necessary sensors and probes included in the package, and is built on an infrastructure that can be expanded and easy to adopt by third party manufacturers who wish to include eKoral to the list of supported aquarium controllers.
In fact, EKoral’s compatibility certificate program for third party devices already has an impressive list of products that are guaranteed compatible with eKoral controller. Brands like Reef Octopus, Kessil, AquaticLife, Tunze, and others all have at least one device in their catalog that are certified to communicate with eKoral.
I did not play with the cloud based interface for very long, but at first glance, the platform looked intuitive and easy to follow. There are basic functions like programming the outlets and sensors, done in a simple visual form with sliders and step by step instructions, as well as dedicated tabs for probe readings graphs and power usage charts.
One unique gadget eKoral features is a water level sensor that sits above the water line and uses ultrasound to monitor water level, as opposed to an optical element or a float switch seen in other water sensors. The latter can only tell when the water level comes in contact with their inner mechanism, but eKoral Sensor monitors the water level constantly and can record changes in the tank’s water column throughout the day.
eKoral comes out in the month of October and will be sold in three levels: Basic, Pro, and Elite. I didn’t receive any details about what’s included in each version and in terms of pricing; only the mid-level Pro version price, which is $899, has been revealed.
It’s good to see a new player in the aquarium controller market coming out with a complete, fully functional product. For that reason, eKoral received our “Best of Show” award.
We’ll keep you posted when we receive more info about eKoral, meanwhile, visit https://www.ekoral.io to learn more about his new controller. Also, check to see the full list of eKoral Sync approved devices.