Reading teststrips

We are studying how we can ‘read’ test strips for chlorine, pH, alkalinity and hardness using machine learning to help improve the accuracy of citizen monitoring. We’re looking to create a reference library of thousands of photos so that we can make the model as accurate as possible. We’re looking for volunteers from across Ontario to help us!

For the first phase of this research, we are looking for volunteers to test 8 times over 4 weeks in two locations.

Registration for this study is now closed and research is ongoing. We will be seeking additional research participants in the spring.

Quickstart video

A walk through of testing. You will need to sign up in order to receive this Tinykit. People from Ontario only! You will also need to commit to completing the post-study survey.

How it will work:

  • Fill out our pre-survey and give us your contact details
  • We’ll send you our study’s Tinykit, which contains a guide, sample sheets, reference card, test strips and thermometer.
  • Choose 2 locations, preferably on different waterbodies (they can be close to one another, we just hope they have different chemistries!) you can visit easily once per week for 4 weeks.
  • Sample weekly, on the same day, at the same time. Collect water temperature, air temperature data with your thermometer. Record test strip results and take a photo using your reference card.
  • Submit your observations using our app. You can also record your observations on the sample sheets, but you must take photos of your test strips.
  • Once your 4 weeks are complete, we will send you our post- study survey.

Choosing your sample locations

For this study, it is more important that the tests are taken consistently than that they are significant for long-term monitoring. This means to choose sites you can easily access and return to for the next tests.

However, if you’d like to learn more about how to select a sample location for longer term monitoring (if you plan to continue testing into next year, for example), you can get more information here.

How to start adding observations


This area will become an area where we will answer common questions we receive about this study. If you have any questions, please email

How will the test strips be interpreted?

This study is actually to collect photos to build the artificial intelligence that will read the strips. So, for this study, you will be using your own vision to interpret colours, and then take photos. We will also be working in a lab to teach the artificial intelligence what are the ‘correct’ values.

What about the QR Code (that black/white square) at the top of the card?

This is for a feature we want to build in the future. Please ignore this for now.

Do I have to use the app?

No, you don’t. However, this study requires you to take photos, so a camera is required. If you decide to use a camera, you must input your results on

How do you decide who can participate?

We allow anyone who fills out the application form to participate, so long as they live in Ontario, up to a maximum of 100 participants for this phase of the study.

How long does it take to test and record data?

Most people take between 5-10 minutes per week.


This project is possible thanks to a grant from:

[The testkit] gave me an opportunity to explore lakes and creeks in a way that I was never able to before. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of getting involved to help protect the environment, and it was really interesting to learn about the chemistry and health of different water bodies. It is an incredible feeling to know that you’re contributing to protecting water. We had some really great moments together learning about the nature we both love. I cannot wait to learn more.

Julie Lachapelle, testkit user since 2017