When innovative minds are at play, you get some great solutions. Shower Buddy is ready for the mainstream and out to challenge the way we think about water conservation.
What do you get when you put three electronics engineers in a room and ask them to develop a solution to the water crisis? An innovative device ecosystem that seeks to reward users for their compliance. At least that’s the idea. There’s always the fear it could break the other way and you end up with something like the smart water meter the City of Cape Town is currently installing in properties that far exceed the recommended water consumption. The same meters that spontaneously stop working, or require frequent battery changes and leave people without water.
You also need to look at the quality of the data the city refers to when measuring consumption. CSK Innovative Solutions has it all figured out and is swinging for the boundary rope with regard to their ambitions.
“We want to partner with Sun International,” says Zaahied Cassim. “This was a concept developed about six years before this drought. It was me battling with my wife, trying to get into the bathroom. I had to make her aware of how long she was taking.”
The product that they demonstrated is an IoT (internet of things) solution that turns a showerhead into a smart device. A Wi-Fi radio connects to your network and there’s a smartphone application which works surprisingly well. You can predetermine a duration or water use limit and the device will alert you when you’ve used half of the quota, with further alerts as you reach the end, with a persistant alert when you go over.
Design was done by Denel engineer Solomon Smit. “I was introduced to Solomon by our other partner Deon Kallis,” explains Cassim. “Solomon is phenomenal; he did the ramp up to proof of concept in about three weeks.” That is an impressive achievement given the complexity of the device.
“Our tech is IoT because we’re cognisant of the fact that you need to capture and monitor. Our intention is to do a full value chain from how the municipality integrates with the end user and, in hospitality, determine each user in each room’s water usage footprint. We’re looking at the green status of individuals and reach a point where it becomes a badge of honour.”
There are two markets CSK wants to serve. One is domestic and the other is the hospitality industry. They are aware of other companies trying to enter the market but understand their unique advantage: Solomon Smit.
“We approach it differently. We don’t go the punitive way but rather the incentive way,” says Smit. “We want to cultivate a new culture, so it helps you instead. Ultimately we would like users to be rewarded for their water savings.”
This culture rabbit hole goes pretty deep. Imagine a world where you have a green status and can use that status to score further discounts. All this becomes possible when you have an integrated system. A connected device that can measure data reliably and feed that data back into a reliable system.
“This is the first device in the ecosystem and then there’s the leak detection one,” adds Cassim. “Water is an essential resource for all life on the planet. The current water restriction currently experienced in Cape Town has only amplified how precious this resource is. Just three per cent of current water resources found on Earth is fresh, the growing world population and its consequent growth in demand has placed a major strain on the available supplies. This dwindling supply has necessitated a serious look at water management. This has driven my personal need to be aware of what my water usage was during those luxurious idea generating morning showers that sparked the design of the Shower Buddy.”
The sheer pace of development is quite astounding. In the space of three months, CSK shrank the slightly cumbersome plastic box to an elegant showerhead attachment. Imagine what they could do by the end of the year.
You can contact Zaahied Cassiem at email@example.com for more information.