4DESIGN 17 Shower Canary

  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
    Will Grant
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Jarn Bulling, Will Grant, Janelle Grant
  • Kaitautoko / Contributor
    Matt Black
  • Client
    Matt Black

We were approached to develop a system that could detect and visualise water consumption to raise awareness of consumers and help curb excess water usage when showering.

Existing water infrastructure around the world is struggling to cope with increasing populations and pressure on water resources, a major issue around the world.

One of the best ways to combat this is for users to minimise their own water consumption. A barrier to this is that consumers struggle to conceptualise exactly how much water they are actually using when they are showering. The average person spends 8 minutes in the shower, and under 25 year olds over 11 minutes. A 4-minute reduction in shower time would result in saving:

48 litres of Water (per shower)
0.78kg reduction of CO2 emission from heating the 48 litres of water.
Up to $700 on energy for the average family of 4 per year.
Each unit save approx. 1140kg CO2e per year (equivalent of 45 trees ).

The design solution we developed is a sensor, hub and app designed to monitor water usage and provide visual and audible feedback to the user. Not only does it provide real-time water usage, but it also stores data in the cloud, providing daily, weekly and yearly statistics on water and energy consumption. This concept is backed by behavioural science research.

The compact sensor attaches to any showerhead or pipe without the need for intrusive installation methods. The device monitors the water usage using measuring sensors and sends the information in real-time to the hub. The hub then displays the information on a time/usage timer.

The non-intrusive nature of the installation means this system is not limited to showers. Additional sensors can be attached to other appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and any domestic appliance that uses water to give the users a holistic overview of the total household water usage.

The design benefits both consumers and governments in reducing water costs on both individual and municipal levels, as well as reducing both collective and personal water use and CO2 emissions.