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The

“Eco Nudge” Tap
A concept that has the potential to instill
behavior for realizing a sustainable future
By Sridhar Surpanini
18-May-2012
A Few Global Numbers for Perspective
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_resources
A Few Global Numbers for Perspective
A Few Local Numbers for Perspective
(Bangalore)
Less water to go
around

BWSSB* currently supplies
approximately 900 million
litres (238 million gallons) of
water to the city per day,
despite a municipal demand of
1.3 billion liters
* Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board
Data source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangalore_Water_Supply_and_Sewerage_Board
Picture courtesy of K. Murali Kumar (from the newspaper THE HINDU)
A Few Local Numbers for Perspective
(Bangalore)
Groundwater
Depletion

Groundwater extraction has
caused the water table to drop
variously from 90 to 300
meters (300 to 1000 feet)
below ground level (as
compared to an average water
table depth of about 30 meters
(90 feet) two decades ago)
Data source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangalore_Water_Supply_and_Sewerage_Board
Illustration: Madhu Ramaswamy
So yes… we do
have a problem…
Question is…
are we bothered?
Trigger Point & Motivation
Picture courtesy of Corbis.com
Everyday I see my colleagues
using up precious water to wash
their coffee cups... without a
thought in their minds that while
they are cleaning their cups the
water is running away in to the
drain...
It is not that they are ignorant about the water shortage or that they
intentionally like to waste the water. The problem I see is that there is not
enough feedback to make them realize the amount of water that is being
wasted, obviously the audio-visual effect of the water flowing down the drain is
not a deterrent enough. However my feeling is that the interaction does not
clearly communicate the amount of water that is optimum. Thus for now its not
a conscious decision that the water is getting wasted... it just does not register...
The taps we use…
Mechanisms - Turn, Lift & Press…
Pictures courtesy of Corbis.com
Mechanisms - Turn, Lift & Press…
These mechanisms
usually result in
more of wastage &
less of usage
Picture courtesy of Corbis.com
What are the available Solutions…?
Low Flow Taps
Picture courtesy of Corbis.com
Splitting a single stream in to multiple
thin jets
Mixing air in water giving an illusion of
more (areators)
Picture courtesy of Corbis.com
Pedal based
Picture courtesy of Corbis.com
Pressing only when needed does reduce water
usage to a large extent
Motion based water dispensing
Picture courtesy of Corbis.com
Possibly the ultimate solution in reducing
water wastage… However the downside is that
these require batteries or mains power supply
to run
However… are we able to
change user behavior?
Truth is none of the existing solutions are
able to change user behavior towards
efficient water usage
Picture courtesy of Corbis.com
We forget the water running in the
background…
Concerns
Scarcity
• No cost effective way to manufacture water
• Ground water depletion in urban areas
• Water delivered by tankers means higher
costs and usage of fossil fuels for
transportation
Social
• Concerns not reaching out to the middle
class
• Problem of plenty
• Scarcity has not registered
• The most scary part is that we are not
bothered
• “It is the governments problem… not my
problem”
Pictures courtesy of Corbis.com
Goal


is to nudge user towards a behavior
that enables sustainability
Picture courtesy of Corbis.com
The Solution
Needs to
provide
active
feedback
Should not
require an
external
power supply
Needs to
induce a
behavior
change
Looking in the vicinity for
solutions…
Looking in the vicinity
Petrol has become quite expensive and as a result came
methods for its optimal use
Picture courtesy of Corbis.com
Looking Around
• Steady acceleration
• A range of desired speed for best mileage
indicated by a colored (green) band on the
speedometer
For some time now motorbikes and
scooters in India have the speedometer
indicating the range of optimum speed
which would give the best mileage.
A Plausible Solution

• Provide choices upfront and

• Give the active feedback of the choice
The range solution can be applied in two
aspects of the tap -
Picture courtesy of Corbis.com
• Let the user make a choice
to use a lower volume vs. a
higher volume of water

• However add the range
color band which shall
provide a visual feedback of
the amount of water that is
deemed to be ‘ok’ for
consumption
Provide Choices Upfront
The “Eco Nudge Tap” a concept by Sridhar Surpanini
Active Feedback of choice made
• Illuminate the water based on the choice made
– Low volume (green)
– High volume (red)

• Use LED’s at the spout
to light up the water

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Products that use LED to light up tap water are already being mass produced. However the
light is being used to indicate the water temperature. Tip: search for “LED tap light” on
Google Image or YouTube for references.
Wait… how do we light the LED
without a power supply?

• The required power is generated by the water
that is flowing through the tap

• Power generation using tap water is a proven
concept and here is an example – Eco Power
Faucets

In the example the water flow is used to charge the batteries which then deliver power
to the sensors. However in our case there is no need to have power all the time. It is only
required when the water flows and thus the need of a battery is greatly reduced.
Predicted Benefits!
• The feedback given by lighting up the water coming out of the tap in red
has a high chance of giving rise to a feeling of guilt in the user and thus
would make him/her change behavior

• The red/green light also provides a social feedback... the person using the
tap will be conscious about the fact that other people walking by can see
the color of the water and this could generate 2 types of feelings...
– one is where the user of the tap would want to showcase that he/she is using
the tap in the eco mode and
– if he/she is using the tap in the non-eco mode then other persons would
disapprove him/her wasting the water

• The nudge to choose the eco mode would possibly spill over to other
activities where the person would make the eco choice either by guilt or
for the feeling of contributing to saving the planet
1. Beat up this proposal (Use ConnectUs for discussions)
– At a conceptual level
• Lighting up water in green is going to nudge people
towards a sustainable lifestyle… yeah whatever…
– At a practical level
• Using tap water flow to generate power for an LED light…
yeah… that will happen!

2. If it survives beating up, then we think what to
do next…

What to do next?
What can be built on top of this
concept?
• A sensor under the faucet would tell whether the user was using the
water or it is only going down the drain. Thus if user is not using the water
for a prescribed amount of time and water is flowing, it shall turn red in
color. Of course one can automatically turn it off... but then we want the
user to turn it off... as we want him to change his behavior. If we
automatically turn it off we are not nudging him enough to make changes
in his/her behavior.

• Taps made from transparent(full or in parts) materials can glow based on
the amount of water they are dispensing.
– The glow can be based on amount of water dispensed in a day/per use/

• Collect and analyze the data
– If the system can identify who used the tap then give them badges for relative
less usage.
– Post these badges on their social networking sites
THANK YOU
Sridhar Surpanini
sridhar.surpanini@philips.com, ssr_rao@yahoo.com
+919845015213