Smart water solution


How can we help people to become aware of their water usage and empower them to make changes to their daily water consumption routines?

The context

As part of the Product Design and Studio Design classes, we were given a challenge to solve in Smart Environments. Each person in the team had to design a product that would be part of a same network.


1 month


Luke Buenaventura, Hector Cruz, Douglas Dean

My role

I created the device AWA.

Research, Interaction design, Product design


Keynote, Sketch, Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop, Autodesk Fusion 360, Slack

Research and data gathering

FOUR devices and ONE network in ONE month

When we were handed the brief, to solve a problem in the Smart environment and design 4 devices linked together, we weren’t sure what was more challenging to us: coming up with 4 different products or solving a wicked problem in 1 month only?

One part of the challenge was to individually focus on 1 device while working together to create a Smart environment solution. However our first step was to define the area of Smart environment we wanted to focus on.

Water use and conservation

After brainstorming we settled on educating and increasing awareness of water use and conservation.

We explored about different places we could implement our smart environment in. We looked into Smart Air Vents. Smart Kitchens. Rainwater Collection for homes.

We settled on water usage in the Home, specifically creating a smart environment to assist people in being aware of their water usage and empower them to make changes to their daily water consumption routines.

Generative research results

We conducted interviews, observations and secondary researches:

Today Showering (24%) and bathing (20%) are the largest indoor uses of water domestically.

Most people use curtailment(eg. turning water off while soaping up in shower) as a way to conserve water rather than investing in efficiency improvements and technology.

Some people feel intimidated by new technology, and/or money is a barrier.

"Some people feel intimidated by new technology, and/or money is a barrier."

What has been done so far?

We looked at precedents inside the home, kitchen and bathroom, and outside in the garden. As a general observation most Smart water solutions provide information about water consumption, are automatically set however very few give control to the people.

User scenarios

User personas and scenarios

We defined 3 personas from various groups and different genders. We created user stories to provide context and detail to help us design the best solution for them.

Juliette Rovel

26 years old
Community Manager

Rob Manakchan

54 years old
Sales Rep. & Contractor
Married, 2 kids

Samuel Horsten

39 years old
Supermarket Clerk

Scenario 1 - Juliette

Juliette is coming home from work and is wondering whether or not she should water the plants

She decides to water them

30 min later, it is pouring rain

Scenario 2 - Rob

Rob’s son is taking a shower

While his wife is doing the dishes

30 min later, Rob realizes that his son is still in the shower

Scenario 3 - Samuel

Samuel just received the water bill

Samuel and his wife are arguing about the high water bill

As a consequence they find themselves on a low budget until the end of the month

Prototypes development

Early prototypes

Once we agreed as a team on each device’s function and purpose, we developed our prototypes individually. AWA is the main hub in the house where everything can be controlled from.


3D development and printing

We then developed our prototypes individually, using Autodesk Fusion 360.

From left to right, top to bottom:

AWA (Main Hub) – focused on digital rounded screen and feel of water

AQUASENS (Greywater Indicator) – focused on a flattened droplet shape for a status display

BLOORB (Garden Drop) – focused on omnidirectional shape for sensors

WATA (Shower Sensor) – focused on actual direction of screen, and adaptability to the shower head

We presented our 3d printed devices to the class and received feedback.

Consistent form

Communicate the drop shape better throughout the different objects

Same material

Use a material that is consistent with all the objects.

Proposed solution

We decided on a consistent shape, material and a general theme. We have 4 products in our network that influence water usage in the bathroom (shower), the kitchen (sink), outside (garden) and the home as a whole. We mostly took care of the design decisions knowing that we would need to consult with engineers to decide how our products would be linked to each others.

Shape: Drop

Material: Plastic matte, acrylic and chrome

Color: White

Family design language: Clarity, transparency, Simplicity


AWA displays water usage throughout the house. It is an input and output device connected wirelessly to the 3 other devices.

User can control the amount of water used with the use of different settings.


WATA has sensor that reduces amount of water being used.

Sensor connects to main hub, digitally displaying shower time, amount of water and temperature.


BLOORB displays moisture levels throughout the environment from the air and soil.

This sensor sends weather information to AWA and informs users about climate through light rings.


The AQUASENS display provides users with live feedback while doing tasks at the sink.

It measures the rate of flow, duration and the amount of greywater saved.

Everything is reported via Bluetooth from the faucet flow sensor and the under-sink greywater capture system.

Bloop's heuristic evaluation

We first conducted our own heuristic evaluation considering:

  • Visibility of system status
    Users are constantly informed about their water usage, at different times and different locations. Feedback is given right away with a status update.
  • Match between system and the real world
    Terms are used in a simple way that people are familiar with. Liters, gallons, timing.
  • User control and freedom
    User will be warned when they are about to make a change on the main interface. In the shower, user is warned when they go near and over their time limit (sound and visual set up on main interface).
  • Consistency and standards
    Using a consistent language, font, color and shape.
  • Error prevention
    Users will be getting warnings to anticipate changes or actions from devices. For example, the water would not stop running during a shower if the time limit is exceeded. Instead the user will receive some sort of visual or auditory signal.
  • Flexibility and efficiency of use
    Some basic features that are easily accessible by all. There are some more advanced features that are accessible once in the menu. Visually understandable for the novice user and technically advanced for more expert users. We may need to make some advanced features more easily accessible.
  • Aesthetic and minimalist design
    Information is minimal and visible in different ways depending on the device. For example, time spent in the shower in one device vs amount of water used in kitchen sink or main interface

AWA's heuristic evaluation

I ran an heuristic evaluation with a classmate:

“Why is it in dial design?”

“It feels like a loading bar.”

“You want it to get full, initially.”

“Use empathetic design like sad face, happy face.”

“I want to see an image of my water consumption, not just numerical data.”

“Instead of liters/gallons, use bodies of water that are familiar (you used enough water to fill an olympic swimming pool today or you saved 3”

The main insights are to communicate water usage visually and to use conversational language to show usage of water.

User testing

Preference test

Based on the previous heuristic evaluation, I proposed a second version of the main screen.





Would you like to be able to compare your water usage with others in the network?

Would you like to see who in your household is using too much water?


Based on the previous heuristic evaluation, I proposed a second version of the main screen. Users who liked the B version mentioned that they really liked to be able to see visually the amount of water they used. They found it easier to assimilate information. Based on these results, I would test a version with a switch option between the 2 versions.

One more thing that would need to be tested is how to picture the amount of water (left or used): some users think of amount of water used versus amount of water left when setting up a limit.

I realized that the first question would need to be rephrased. What I learned from this question is that some users would be concerned with privacy.

User scenario with Bloop