A simple connected device that encourages users to reduce water consumption by competing with their friends took first place at the Disrupt SF Hackathon 2014 in San Francisco on Sunday (September 7).
The prototype device, nicknamed Shower With Friends, monitors shower flow and water consumption, and tells users via an app whether they used more or less water than the previous day. Users can share their data to compete with friends for the shortest shower.
The idea is to harness peer motivation, as the Nike+ FuelBand and Fitbit wearables have done, turning positive behaviours into a networked game or challenge. The device's designers say they want to reduce the average shower time from 10 minutes to three, to help combat one of the worst droughts California has ever experienced. Even that small reduction would reduce water consumption for washing by 30%.
The team received $5,000 to develop the idea further. A total of 132 teams took part in the hackathon, which brought together developers and designers to solve problems and prototype ideas.
For more on the latest commercial initiatives tackling the problem of water scarcity, see Doing Without Water.