Designing for the Droplet water flow metre

We are heading for a global water crisis – and we know it. I’m not going to hammer the point home here, as there is a ton of background info out there about why it’s important to reduce unnecessary water usage, from rainy London’s counter-intuitive drought through massive subsidence in California from overuse of groundwater to the environmental and geopolitical challenges of the Middle East’s water shortages.

So, I’m working on a quantified self/ citizen science project with tech-for-social-impact company iilab alongside engineer Sam Carlisle to develop an open source water flow metre, Droplet, that allows users to easily monitor the amount of water coming out of their faucets and showers – and maybe even their loos – and, if they so desire, to share it with a community of similarly interested individuals to gather usage data and see how monitoring – and a device that interacts with you in real time – can change water usage.

We are particularly focussing on collecting shower data, as this is an area where most of us can easily reduce our water usage without compromising on hygiene. And we’re making the device open source so that people can hack it and come up with their own wonderously creative forms of feedback to the user in real time.

One of my favourite ideas for realtime feedback is a series of sardonic audio recordings triggered by specific levels of water usage. So, if you end up using a vast amount of water, you might end up hearing a depressive recording of Stevie Smith’s Not Waving But Drowning [you can hear a recording, along with a load of other great poems, here – though it’s not as depressive as I’d like for Droplet].

Anyway, here’s our first meeting working on Droplet – I’m taking the IT idea of a sandpit rather literally here 🙂 – making the most of the gorgeous spring weather.

Kat and Sam C courtyard






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