Prac­ti­cal wa­ter sav­ing with pre­mium am­bi­tions

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

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 za­a­hed@ cskso­lu­ for more information.

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