Jul 10, 2015 - Why I Chose The Zen Float Tent

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After about a year and a half of consideration I’ve finally decided to purchase a Zen Float Tent.

This idea of getting a float tank has been bouncing around in my mind for a couple of years now. I had thought about the Escape Pod Tank or the Samadhi Tank but just couldn’t justify the cost of those for residential use. These tanks are great, however paying $6,000+ for a tank just didn’t seem to be feasible for something that wouldn’t be used for commercial purposes. The Zen Float Tent comes in just under $2,000 which is a lot more affordable especially considering that the cost of salt could run you close to $600 to fill it up initially (plus more for maintenance).

Three reasons why to choose the Zen Float Tent:

  1. Affordable
  2. Light weight
  3. Aesthetically Pleasing

If I were to purchase a higher end float tank for my home (or even a float center) the Escape Pod Tank is on the top of the list. They are very durable (stainless steel) and the filtration system seems to be very robust. Also their pricing is very reasonable at under $10,000 for a commercial grade tank.

Here is what the Escape Pod looks like (2015 model).

Typically with a commercial grade tank they have higher end filters that clean the water much more quickly than in a residential tank. In the case of my setup I will have another filtration system besides the standard one that comes with the Zen Float Tent. The reason being is that I know many people who are interested in floating and want to make sure the water is very pure for them.

Custom filtration system:

Possible additional filter

Along with this tank I plan on using 35% hydrogen peroxide to help sanitize the water. H202 + UV has been studied as an effective way to clean/disinfect the water. See the EPA post about it here.</a> There also have been many studies done on the combination of UV + H202 in disinfecting water which can be found on Google Scholar.</a> If your really interested in how this works UV + H202 forms hydroxyl radicals</a>which are often referred to as the “detergents” of the atmosphere because they react with many pollutants, often acting as the first step to their removal. This makes sense that UV + H202 can disinfect water effectively.

Typically H202 comes in 3% solutions but for the sake of sanitization 35% makes more sense economically.

The Zen Float Tent comes with one filter pump which includes a UV light (note: the new upgraded tent v1.5 includes two pumps). Just to make sure that the water is ultra pure I may end up getting another UV light to attach to the intex pool pump just to have more of those hydroxyl radicals that I mentioned earlier.

Isolating sound

Sound isolation is a typical problem with float tanks especially low frequency sounds such as people walking or cars driving by. These sounds can travel well throughs solid objects such as the walls and the water that you will be floating in.

To solve this issue I plan on purchasing a neoprene rubber anti-vibration pad to help absorb these sounds if they are too distracting.

Finally there is the issue of the tank leaking if some sharp object gets into the tank and tears the vinyl. For this I plan on purchasing an industrial spill berm to catch water if the tent leaks.

Mar 15, 2015 - 3 Parts of An Automated Float Tank Center

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The reason for this post is to speak in more detail about what will be required to create a fully automated float center. Some of the components that will need to be implemented will include Arduinos(microcontrollers), access cards(to get into building), a database(storing user info), Stripe/Paypal(credit card processor), and networking to tie the whole system into the internet.

Various components to the system

We will break down the whole system into 3 different systems. These systems are:

  1. Scheduling/Billing System
  2. Building security
  3. Filtration/clean up

Scheduling/Billing System

This is the system that will be designed around a website that will allow floaters to sign up on the website and schedule floats.
There are already many versions of this type of software developed however one needs to be custom designed to fit in with the automated float center. Some examples include:

  1. FloatHelm
  2. FrontDesk
  3. ZenPlanner
  4. MindBodyOnline

Scheduling all starts with the customer wanting to book at float online. He will go to the website and there will be a button that will pull up the scheduling application. From there they can pick the time they want to float and then pay using a credit card. This system will need to be tied into the building security system which will permit the user to gain access using their access card or PIN number when they show up to float.

This process might look like this:

  1. User books/pays for float online
  2. Access card is activated for the time they have scheduled
  3. They show up and their access card allows them to enter their specified float room

Building security

In order to maintain security for the building and the customers who use this facility there must be strict access into the building only permitted if that user has scheduled a float. The reason for strict access is that we only want floaters who are permitted into the facility at their designated float time, if this is not the case then people may be tempted to steal floats or to disrupt the peaceful waiting room which could become overcrowded. The access control software would be able to keep track of how long users stay at the float tank center including time during, before, and after their float. These metrics would be a lot easier to obtain if the only permitted people into the building have been authorized to float. These metrics could be used to help cut back on unnecessary time spent between float sessions and to help provide an overall better experience for the floater.

This aspect of the float center would operate similar to a 24/7 tanning salon except that users only have a certain time window in which they can gain access to the facility. This system would need an access card reader or PIN pad on the front door and on each of the float tank room doors. When the user arrives they will already know which room they are floating in via text message or email, so they can go into the facility and head to the room they have booked for floating. Once the user enters their room they will take a shower and then enter the tank. A sensor will be placed on the door of the room which will detect when it was opened and will know to start a timer which will play music in the tank when the float time is up.

Certain problems can appear at this stage of the process:

  1. What if the floater arrives late for their float?
  2. How do you prevent a floater from staying longer in the tank?
  3. What if the floater has health complications in the tank?

To combat some of these problems there will need to be fail-safes in place. Let’s take the example of the floater arriving late for their appointment. If the floater arrives more than 15 minutes late the front door would not allow them to enter. This would keep the process moving smoothly because if a floater arrives late it could push back the floats for other people.

In the event that a floater stays in the tank longer than scheduled, there will be various ways to “encourage” them to get out of the tank. When the time is up there first might be some music that begins to play in their float tank. Then if they still have not gotten out (motion sensor to detect this) a light could come on and then start flashing if they continue to stay in the tank.

The third problem is a bit tricky because without someone being on site it might be hard to know if someone is having problems in the tank. This issue could be compared to a swimming pool that has no lifeguard on duty where there would be a disclaimer that in the event something bad happens there may be no one to help you. Besides this disclaimer another useful option would be to place an “emergency” button inside the tank so if the floater is having issues they can hit the button and it will dial 911 and they could talk to them via a speaker in the tank.

Filtration/clean up

In between float sessions it is necessary to run the tank’s filtration system in order to clean all of the water of bad bacteria and pathogens that may have accumulated after a person’s float. This system will be implemented by using a motion detector to sense when a person has gotten out of the tank and has started their post float shower. Something to keep in mind the system would have to verify that that floater’s time has been used up in the event that they were planning on going back to continue floating.

Typically the floater will use a towel, ear plugs, and maybe Q-tips which they will need to dispose of after their float is over. For this type of float center there would be a trash can and a laundry basket in order to keep the room clean. Also it is critical that there is a large stack of towels laid out so that the every floater will have fresh towels throughout the day. At the end of the day there will need to be a person who comes in an does laundry and takes out the trash. There could be an incentive where a floater gets one float at half price if they do some chores around the center and help clean up.

Summary

To sum things up there are a lot of technical aspects that go into creating an automated float tank center. Clearly this system needs to be well thought out ahead of time and designed carefully with fail-safes in place to help deal with any problems that might occur.

Feb 20, 2015 - Automated Float Tank Center

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First off, you are probably wondering what I mean by a fully automated float tank center. Let’s start by looking at what a typical flotation center looks like. If you are unfamiliar with a float tank center imagine a tanning salon but instead of tanning beds there are float tanks in each room. If you are curious about what a float tank looks like check out the blog post here. Most of the float centers I’ve been to consist of a front desk where a person will help sign you in and will explain the process of how to use the tank. The process would go something like this:

  1. Walk into float center (usually after having made an appointment)
  2. Talk to the person at the front desk
  3. Typically they will explain how the process works (which might include taking a shower before/after, using ear plugs, and not getting water in your eye)
  4. Enter the room you are going to float in
  5. Then you shower/float/shower (the person will knock on the tank or you will hear music when float is over)
  6. You pay the person at the front desk
  7. After you've paid, you can relax in the waiting room or leave and enjoy the post float glow

Having a fully automated float center could substantially cut back on the overhead expenses of paying a person to run the front desk. The process would essentially be the same, except for speaking with a person you would go to the room you booked online. Keep in mind, this system is designed for people who have experience floating so they won’t need someone to explain details. This process might go something like this:

  1. Book a float online and pay with a credit card
  2. Visit the float center with an access card or a 4 digit PIN that will allow you to get into the building
  3. You can use the same access card/PIN to access the float room you booked
  4. Then you shower/float/shower (music will play in your tank when the time is up)
  5. After the float your free to leave and enjoy the post float glow

Now the major difference between these two types of float tank centers is that one has a person present during floats. Having an automated float center eliminates this extra cost which results in giving the customer access to cheaper floats. For this automated float tank center I believe the best pricing model would be subscription based. I could see this being extremely useful for a floating cooperative business so that after each person floats they might add a bit more salt into the tank, wipe the tank down, and put their dirty towel into a laundry basket. This could be a very sustainable business since a majority of the cost for running a float tank center comes from paying a staff to be there to check people in. Something to keep in mind is that this is a very high level overview of what I see in my ideal float center. In future posts I will break it down into exactly how the system will be setup.