PSP Expo show floor
Credit: Informa Exhibitions U.S.

PSP Expo show floor

It’s become a bit of a tradition to scout out noteworthy products at the International Pool| Spa | Patio Expo each year and then share them with readers. So at the Expo in Las Vegas in November 2015, PSN writers wandered through the exhibit hall, on the lookout for new and innovative items. We’ve come up with a diverse selection of cool industry products.


A. Germs don’t have a chance: AquaStar
The FlowStar with Ultimate Ozone took first place in the “Green Product” category at the Expo’s Product Showcase.

The backstory of this skimmer with ozone is rather interesting. Technically, it’s the second product of this kind. The first was designed in collaboration between AquaStar Pool Products and one of the top American pool builders, who’s been using this U.S.-patented concept for several years, says Steve Barnes, director of science and compliance at AquaStar. Due to the product’s success in thousands of pools over several years, everyone involved agreed it was time to share this technology with the rest of the industry by incorporating the ozone contact and distribution system into AquaStar’s skimmer designs.

So how does it work? For starters, it uses a corona discharge system to inject the ozone into a contact chamber built into the pool wall, Barnes says. He then explains the process: The ozone-treated water enters the throat of the skimmer behind the weir door, where it immediately begins working as the dirty water spills into the skimmer housing, breaking down oils and destroying germs that cause recreational water illnesses (RWIs).

By placing the contact chamber at the front of the filtration system, the ozone has the maximum amount of time possible to kill and clump microscopic impurities together before they reach the filter, so they can be trapped in the filter, making for sparkling clear water.

The “green” aspect comes into play because this method also is an energy-saver. Barnes notes that it eliminates the need for a venturi injector, which is a flow chokepoint that requires pumps to operate at much higher speeds, using “significantly more energy compared to the same circulation system without an in-line ozone injector.”

The most impressive thing about this system, Barnes concludes, is “the ability of the ozone to go to work the moment water enters the skimmer, providing the longest contact time possible without needing to run a multispeed pump at a higher speed for the system to work properly.”

For more info: visit the website



B. Massage magic: CG Air Systèmes
Its creators call it “the next generation of massage system” and that does seem apropos. The Vibro.Sonic System can be installed in portable spas or bathtubs and, depending upon the system chosen, it may or may not require air or water.

How so? While the Spa Vibro.Sonic installation system does require water plumbing installation (jet shown), the Bathtub Vibro.Sonic installation system doesn’t need any plumbing work — just drill holes in the bathtub, install the jets and plug each one into the controller.

“No water or air is involved on the Vibro.Sonic massager,” says Michael Gingras, project director at CG Air Systèmes. “The  massager allows for control over the vibration speed and power, as well as different sequences. That way, the bather can truly have the massage experience required, and adjust it to their needs of the moment. It allows for muscle relaxation, stress relief, pain relief and, frankly, for a great massage.”

He points out the convenience of being able to also get a massage even if you don’t feel like taking a bath. The user can slip into the dry bathtub, lean back against the jets and enjoy a neck, back and/or foot massage — without undressing.

The Vibro.Sonic System was launched at the Expo, and folks stopping by the company’s booth were able to sit in a display unit for a dry massage. “Every person who got to experience the system had the exact same expression,” Gingras reports. “We could just see it on their faces ... that they were getting an experience completely unexpected. As much as we can try explaining it, there is nothing like experiencing it.”

For more info: visit the website


C. Simplifying pool care: ConnectedYard
The pHin sensor system took first place in the “New Product” category at the Product Showcase.

How it came into being is a “great minds think alike” kind of story. One day Mark Janes was sitting by his pool with Justin Miller, sharing stories about how difficult it was to look after a pool or hot tub. Both founders of ConnectedYard Inc.  had pools and, the more they talked, the more the ideas flowed. That day, pHin and Pool Service On Demand were created.

It’s reinventing pool and hot tub care, according to Janes. The COO of ConnectedYard explains that pHin uses a Bluetooth Smart and Wi-Fi-enabled sensor, a mobile phone app, and pre-measured chemicals. The smart sensor constantly monitors the water, sending a notification to the owner’s phone when they need to balance the water quality — and color-coded, water-soluble chemical pods are shipped to the home. Pool Service On Demand has a website and a booking/scheduling app that puts pool technicians in touch with new customers; it provides people with an easy, secure way to book on-demand service visits whenever needed, at a pre-negotiated rate.

In 2015, pHin also garnered a couple of IoT awards: the Best IoT Technology Development Award at the IDTech Ex Show and the 2015 IoT Evolution Connected Home and Building Award from IoT Evolution magazine. (IoT stands for the Internet of Things and refers to an object that is embedded with sensors, network connectivity, software and/or electronics, enabling it to collect and exchange data, and be controlled remotely.)
Launch dates for the products are January for Pool Service On Demand, and April for pHin. Janes says the company has been accepting pre-orders for pHin since June 2015.

For more info: visit the website



D. Spa cover with a twist: Covana
At first glance, Covana’s automated covers look like gazebos with spas nestled inside, and they are. Optional screens or shades can be added to the sides to provide privacy for the occupants. But there’s more to it than that. When the soak is over and it’s time to cover the spa, the unique nature of this automated cover is apparent. Once everyone has exited, the owner simply turns a key switch and the gazebo roof slowly begins to descend, coming to rest atop the spa. It locks in the down position, keeping children and intruders out of the vessel.

The automatic nature of the cover means no more wrestling with cumbersome covers, says Mario Piché, director of research and development at Covana, a division of Canimex Inc. Indeed, that’s why Covana came into being. “I began designing a hot tub cover after my father-in-law had talked to me about his old threefold cover, and how heavy and difficult it was to manipulate and to lift,” Piché says. “I looked for an alternative and, after conducting some research, I had the idea of creating an automated cover.”

Over the years, the Covana cover line has expanded with new models. For example, following the square portable spa cover, came the Covana LEGEND, an automated cover for swim spas. Recently, the firm came out with the Covana EVOLUTION, an automated model that fits large and round hot tubs, Piché says. This summer will see the launch of the Covana HORIZON, which allows for an open view of the sky and surrounding environment.

The Covana has other features that also make it unique. Its higher insulation value, Piché says, helps conserve energy and minimize evaporation; the optional screens and shades offer privacy and protection. “With backyards continually getting smaller and neighbors being only feet away, privacy and intimacy for many consumers is a prerequisite ... ,” he notes.

For homeowners who must cope with snowy winters, Piché says this cover makes “a huge difference” because it doesn’t need to be completely cleared of snow before use. And with the key switch installed inside the home or garage, people can elevate and lower the Covana without standing out in the cold. Being able to use the spa year ’round and in virtually any weather condition factors heavily in a consumer’s purchase decision, he adds.

For more info: visit the website



E. New way to clean: Hayward
Hayward’s TriVac Series of pressure cleaners made quite a splash at the PSP Expo, especially the TriVac 700.

We’re used to seeing cleaners of all stripes methodically moving along a pool floor and walls, but it’s unusual to see one floating on the water as it performs its duties. That would be the TriVac 700.

While Hayward’s new TriVac 500 efficiently cleans the entire pool interior, including corners and crevices, the TriVac 700 (shown) has a special ability. Its Top Mode can scoop debris from the surface of the water, and its more conventional Bottom Mode can vacuum the pool floor, walls and coves.

Indeed, the most unique feature of the TriVac Series is that surface skimming capability of the TriVac 700, says Skylar Porter, marketing communications manager at Hayward Pool Products. She adds that the company’s patented technology, which allows the unit to be “switched” from conventional floor and wall cleaning to surface skim, means that floating debris is scooped up and held in the filter bag — thus removing the need for manual surface cleaning.

That’s key because, Porter says, it allows homeowners to enjoy their pools, not spend time manually cleaning them. “All cleaners on the market today essentially are bottom only, or bottom/wall cleaners, which means surface cleaning is a manual, time-consuming job,” she explains. “Hayward sees the value in providing an automatic pool cleaner to do the heavy lifting, cleaning all pool surfaces” so homeowners don’t have to.

Feedback has been very favorable, Porter reports. “Consumers see the real value of having the cleaner do a complete 100 percent clean of all surfaces,” she notes. The TriVac 500 will begin shipping in January, and the TriVac 700 will start in March.

For more info: visit the website

F: Floating fun in the sun: Shade Science
Skin cancer runs in Erica Sloan’s family. She had her first dysplastic mole removed at age 21. Her grandfather died of melanoma, her father gets cancerous moles removed every six weeks, and Sloan gets her skin checked every six months. “Vigilant skin surveillance is part of our life,” says the president of Shade Science, LLC.

So it’s understandable that she wanted to protect her children from sun overexposure. When she and husband Jeremy bought a house with a pool, he began building them a sun shade. “We wanted to just buy something, but all the options on the market were very expensive or clumsy,” Sloan says, “so Jeremy went to work in the garage building something for us. He kept working to make it simpler and simpler, smaller and smaller — until he reached the current design [for Pool Buoy]. When our friends came over and used it, they insisted that if something like this really didn’t exist, we should make it exist.” The Sloans investigated and found that industry people had never seen such a product.

“We knew we were onto something and set out to make it,” Erica Sloan says.

Their product, the Pool Buoy-Original, is a floating ABS plastic table top holding a 7-foot umbrella upright with an underwater counterweight. The table top has five large cup holders; the adjustable polyester umbrella can reach a height of 54 inches. Wind resistance is not an issue because the umbrella has a wind vent and ShadeLoc, which secures it to the table top. The Buoy Leash keeps the Pool Buoy nearby at all times.

“I think the simplicity of the product is what impresses people,” Sloan says. “It is four pieces, lightweight, easy to carry and assemble. But it is also a very hard-working umbrella because it blocks the harmful UVA and UVB rays. ... I think people are also excited when they find out that it works in any water deeper than 2 feet — so not just your pool, but think lake, ocean, vacation rental pool, you name it.”

Pool Buoy-Original was launched in May 2015; the Pool Buoy–Plus line was introduced at the Expo.

For more info: visit the website