Bacteria might soon replace humans when it comes to monitoring water pollution levels, and that’s a good thing. Despite the all the world’s industry needing water and spewing their waste into water, we still haven’t found an efficient and inexpensive way of monitoring water quality. A team of young scientists at Calgary, Canada may have found a solution to this problem and it’s called FRED.

FRED is a Field-Ready Electrochemical Detector, which is basically a box hat contains cartridges of genetically engineered bacteria. Water can be injected manually or automatically into the cartridges and if it is polluted the sensor-like bacteria release a chemical that is electroactive. A detector, also present in the FRED box will detect the signal and transmit it to a server or mobile phone.

FRED’s utility lies in cutting out repeated visits to remote sites to collect water samples and send them back to laboratories. Instead the apparatus can just be set up at the water monitoring locations and a signal can be picked up wirelessly.