I visited a friend last weekend - he's an ol' college buddy - we used to make a mean homebrew with an old engineering professor who taught us the fundamentals. I hadn't seen the guy since his wedding but we try to stay in touch by email. He heard I was coming up his way on business and told me I should stop by and check out his latest project.
He was always smarter than me, and last weekend he really proved it. The dude has built an instrument that measures specific gravity, % sugar and % alcohol in real-time. I could not believe my eyes. He has already made 6 or 7 batches and he popped up the data for each one to show me some of the differences between batches - he even showed me one batch that stalled and how he was able to get it going again! He was in the middle of brewing an IPA, it was 3 days in and had already converted half the original sugar to alcohol! Somehow he paused the thing so he could remove the instrument and show me how accurate it is - water read 1.001 and 190 proof whiskey read .805. The instrument fit right down inside the throat of his carboy - it was made of copper but he said he could make it out of just about anything. It plugs into the USB on any computer (he has several - what a jerk).
I told him he should try to patent it, or sell it or something but he said he didn't think many people would be into it like we were. I thought I'd post it out here and see what the masses think. Cheers,