Two Water Meters for Conservation

Two seperate Japanese design competitions inspired similar domestic water meters from young inventors on opposite sides of the globe. Yu Guoqun is an industrial designer in China who won a Silver Prize in the Nagoya Design Do! 2006 competition for iSave, which was also a runner up in the Metropolis 2007 Next Generation® Design Competition. After the project appeared in the May 2007 issue of Metropolis the magazine’s editors learned about In Sight, In Mind, a project by Toronto industrial design student Adam Kereliuk which was selected as an Excellent Work at the International Design Competition Osaka 2005.

Kereliuk’s water meter was created for a competition themed on energy, which was also the focus of Metropolis’s 2007 Next Generation® competition. Both designers looked at water in relation to energy and came up with conservation tools. While the iSave and In Sight, In Mind are very much alike, the intellectual process and aspects of the technology are different. In comparing the two ideas, each can be said to be informed by people’s interaction with resources and ways to promote environmental stewardship.

Both meters save water through an immediate feed-back of how much of it is used each time a faucet is tapped. In Sight, In Mind is designed as an attachment for sinks, showers, or even garden hoses and has a backlit LCD display that can be set to show how much water has been used that day, week, or month. iSave is remarkably similar in function and has two forms, one is built directly into the faucet hardware and a second model is an attachment; it uses an LED display powered by the flowing water, employing the Faraday effect. Numbers appear in blue when water use is in the moderate range and in red when use is excessive.

Kereliuk designed In Sight, In Mind as an eighteen-year-old, high school graduate working in the oilfields of British Columbia. He is currently a second year student at the Ontario College of Art & Design and explains that “water consumption is something we all need to be more aware of in our daily lives, so I created a device that can track exactly that.

“The whole point of it is that you can see your usage on a screen in liters, and start to get an idea about how much it takes to do simple things like shower or wash the dishes. When you can actually see and track what you’re using, you can start to find ways to use less.”

Thousands of miles away, Yu came to the same conclusion about water use through the theme of the Nagoya Design Do! 2006 competition, “For Someone Else—Communication and Collaboration”. The idea to focus his design on water was inspired by Masaru Emoto’s controversial book, Water Knows the Answers, which proposes that positive and negative human thought directed at water will effect its structural formation as it freezes.

As Yu continued his research, he was presented with the idea of saving energy in the home by itemizing each expense—how much energy does the television or the refrigerator each use, for example. And from there, Yu explains “I tried to make the ‘communication’ as simple as possible to reach the aim of saving water. Since people are used to getting work done by counting time, I applied this habitual behavior in iSave. I wanted to let people know how much water has been used.” Yu expects to have a prototype completed by mid-2008.

Conservation starts at home and, as these two projects show, it is fostered by design across the globe.

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