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“Show-me”: Real-time water consumption in the shower

Show me prototypes and final piece

Show-me prototypes left and center, final model on right. For each liter of water flowing through the meter, LEDs light up on the “Show-Me” according to a factor set by the user.


 In the 2009 paper ““Show-me”: Water consumption at a glance to promote water conservation in the shower” researchers Karin Kappel and Thomas Grechenig, both of the University of Vienna’s research group for Industrial Software (INSO), present an elegant solution to problem that most people haven’t the faintest idea about how much water they use while in the shower. With this tool, the authors’ present an opportunity for an average person to save liters of water every day with a LED-based visualization of the water running down the drain.

Part of the power of this particular piece is in its subtlety. While not providing the user with exact figures in terms of water consumed, it does provide “continuous and unobtrusive feedback” (p.4)  in a way that is both aesthetic and non-pedantic.

They do present details on the construction of the prototype, which is interesting for those of you who might like to try making one of these for your own home. Further, they tested it in four households, with a total of nine occupants for a duration of three weeks. Mean water consumption decreased by about 10 liters, while participants experimented with regular and extreme water saving behavior during the process. While more study would be needed to see if such mean savings would persist across a sample population, it’s a nice start for this design.

Kappel, K., and T. Grechenig. “Show-me: Water Consumption at a Glance to Promote Water Conservation in the Shower.” In Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Persuasive Technology, 26, 2009. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1541984. 
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