Under Pressure: Transforming the Way We Think About and Use Water in the Home
Jon Froehlich, University of Maryland, College Park
July 3, 2012
Cities across the world are facing an escalating demand for potable water and sanitation infrastructure due to growing populations, higher population densities and warmer climates. According to the United Nations, this is one of the most pressing issues of the century. As new sources of water become more environmentally and economically costly to extract, water suppliers and governments are shifting their focus from finding new supplies to using existing supplies more efficiently. One challenge in improving residential efficiency, however, is the lack of awareness that occupants have about their in-home water consumption habits. This disconnect makes it difficult, even for motivated individuals, to make informed decisions about what steps can be taken to conserve.
To help address this problem, my research focuses on creating new types of sensors to monitor and infer everyday human activity such as driving to work or taking a shower, then feeding back this sensed information in novel, engaging, and informative ways with the goal of increasing awareness and promoting environmentally responsible behavior. In this talk, I will present a novel, low-cost, and easy-to-install water sensing system called HydroSense, which infers usage data at the level of individual water fixtures from a single-sensing point and a real-time ambient water usage feedback display called Reflect2O, which leverages HydroSense’s data granularity to inform and promote efficient water usage practices in the home. My talk will emphasize the sensor and inference algorithm development, our two in-home evaluations, and our preliminary evaluations of our feedback visualization designs. Our goal is to reach a 15-20% reduction in water use amongst deployed homes, which, according to the American Water Works Association, would save approximately 2.7 billion gallons per day and more than $2 billion per year.
Jon Froehlich is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland, College Park and a member of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory (HCIL) and the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS). His research focuses on building and studying interactive technology that addresses high value social issues such as environmental sustainability, computer accessibility, and personal health and wellness. Jon earned his PhD from the University of Washington (UW) in Computer Science in 2011 with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp). For his doctoral research, Jon was recognized with the Microsoft Research Graduate Fellowship (2008-2010) and the College of Engineering Graduate Student Research Innovator of the Year Award (2010). His work has been published in many top-tier academic venues including CHI, UbiComp, IJCAI, MobiSys and ICSE and has earned a best paper award and two best paper nominations. Jon received his MS in Information and Computer Science in 2004 from the University of California, Irvine.