Both in private and public settings, the use of physically actuated faucets can be a confusing when users encounter automatic/motion-actuated faucets in their daily lives as well (is this just me?). Remembering to shut off the faucet, especially completely, is often overlooked and is a significant waste of water depending on the duration it is ignored. Because the sound of water can easily be tuned out given how often we encounter it, it is important to communicate this information to users whether for the environment or the bill payer’s sake. In addition, most people use (I hope) soap when they wash their hands, but they don’t need the water to be running while that is happening, so ideally, the water should be shut off briefly while that event is happening to save water as well.
A General Solution:
A device that would represent the flow of water using percussion to signify when it is still running. The tempo of the percussion should convey whether water is running. Ideally, it should be a sound that is distinct from the sound of water running from a faucet. It should take into account when other events are happening as well, such as soap being dispensed. Potential augmentations of the system could be using sensing when people are in front of the sink vs. leaning to dispense soap or other tracking of the users position to understand when the user needs/doesn’t need water.
Proof of Concept:
An Arduino with a potentiometer to represent the faucet being turned on/off, an LED to represent the water (whether it is running or not), and a switch/button to represent when soap is being dispensed. The potentiometer being rotate on will cause a Servo to sweep faster which hits straws to create a beat. The LED, based on the press of a button, will switch on and off regardless of the potentiometer, but unless the button is pressed, the LED will show the potentiometer’s reading of how much water the user wants.
The Fritzing sketch shows how the potentiometer and button are set up to feed information into the Arduino as well as how the LED and Servo are connected to the Arduino to receive outputs. Not pictured, is that the Arduino would have to be connected to a power source.
Proof of Concept Sketches:
The user’s turns on the faucet and is met with a drumming that conveys the flow of the water. If they are sensed to be dispensing soap, the water stops briefly. The system is meant to remind the user to make sure that the faucet is completely closed when they leave. There are however, many additional features that could be added on as the scale of the intervention increases, for example, the drumming could be active only if it is sensed that there is someone present in the space.
Proof of Concept Video: