Smart Water Taps, Sinks and Showers

5 August 2008 at 21:30 | Posted in Green Initiatives, Integrated Home, Inventions, Smart Water Taps, Water Management | Leave a comment
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[Category: Inventions. If you are new to my blog please read the “About itimes3” page first]

The smartest water tap I ever came across was the one my dentist used 25 years ago, which had infrared to switch it on and off. I know of course that this type of tap is quite common in airports, fancy bars and nightclubs, etc. but the reason I mention my dentist is that it was 25 years ago, and since then nothing innovative has happened with water taps as far as I know (and that tap 25 years ago may not even have been new at the time).

Of course the look of taps has changed somewhat, following whatever trend it is that taps conform to, but that’s about it.

Now I happen to live in Sydney, and water in this part of the world is scarce, so usually there are water restrictions of some kind in place here. Many other cities don’t have those, but as global warming accelerates more cities will need to restrict water, at least that is the way it looks to me.

Yet if I want to have any information about my water usage, the only way I can get that information is “after the fact” – I can find out how much water I used last month or so. That never seemed very useful to me. However my tap is too dumb to tell me, let alone to let me change my water usage.

So that situation is urgently due for improvements. Other improvements that would be very useful is full temperature control of the water flow, water jet control (shaping) as well as outflow controls and programmability. In other words: a smart, integrated water management system.

The idea of going out to the store to buy “a tap”, “a showerhead” or “a sink” will hopefully be a thing of the past soon.

What we should be able to buy in the not too distant future are simply “elements of a smart, integrated water management system” for the home or business.

Here are some of the elements that would be part of this system:

  • Smart water taps and shower heads with integrated colour displays showing relevant computer data about: the water usage of that tap or shower head, including current litres per minute/hour; litres used by that tap or shower in last 24 hours/week/month or compared to similar periods;
    the current water temperature;
    the amount of hot vs cold water used (litres of each) or similar;
    the current jet settings (the shower head or tap should be changeable from strong jet to “rain drops” and other settings).
  • If a to be developed smart water filter were attached to that tap the display would also show the filter status and numbers of key contaminants found in the water as relayed electronically from the water filter. The water filter should have the capability to order a new one of itself when levels of contaminants indicate that the filter is due for replacement.
  • A smart sink or bathtub that would have temperature sensors and would automatically keep the water at a temperature the user sets, or increase/decrease temperature to a changed setting, by letting water out via an electronically operated outflow valve and adding hot water (however not too hot; the system would keep temperatures at all times comfortable).
  • A toilet bowl that would sense the required water flow as well as jet strenght and direction for the “business” inside of it and use this then confirm its cleanliness and report back to the central system.
  • A hook-up to washing machines, dishwashers, garden watering systems, swimming pools, etc. to integrate them into the system and ideally get full water usage and control information from them, as well as the ability to manipulate the water flows for these types of equipment too.
  • Electronic touch buttons to operate the temperature, select litres per hour, select jet shape/force, make other settings as required and view statistics and other data on the computer.
  • Various control options including infrared, voice control, gesture control and wireless remote.
  • Network components to wirelessly link every element of the system (taps, showers, wash basins, toilet bowls, etc.) so centralized data records and controls can be kept, and connection to the Internet for various purposes including water supplier billing and water savings bonuses etc.

Further enhancements could easily be conceived.

It is time that manufacturers of taps, sinks, showers and toilets step out of the 1970’s and develop the integrated water savings and control systems that we should already have had now in 2008. The technology has been available for years, it just takes a company with innovative management to develop the products and bring them to market.

A long time ago, when wireless remotes for TV’s had just hit the market, some people were wondering what the heck they should use them for – “Why should I use a remote if I can simply stand up and quickly change the channel or the volume? I’m not that lazy” is what some people said. These days, remotes are the norm and that question is no longer asked. It will be the same with smart water management systems once they go mainstream, which might be sooner rather than later…

If you like this idea and you work in a type of industry where this is relevant, I would be happy to discuss in more detail, answer questions or assist in other ways. For details and contact information please see the “About itimes3” page.

George Spark

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