For entrepreneur Jeffrey Frommer, it started in 2013.
“There was a drought in California,” he told Digital Trends. “There was a lot of discussion about how we weren’t allowed to wash our cars or water our lawns. I remember reading an article about water usage in the shower, and was just being struck by how little I knew about the numbers involved. It really bothered me.”
As a fitness enthusiast, Frommer was familiar with the number of calories he consumed when he ate and the impact that working out had on his body — but was totally ignorant about his average water usage when showering.
He did not need to feel too embarrassed, though. As thousands of conversations he has had in following years have demonstrated, virtually no one knows much about these figures.
This was the start of Frommer’s development of Swon, a smart Wi-Fi-connected device which attaches to existing shower heads and then tells your phone how much water and energy you are using, alongside other metrics like the amount of time you typically spend in the shower.
It can even modify your behavior by suggesting changes that will help reduce your water use, as well as connecting to other smart home devices for If This Then That-style recipes involving your smart lights or connected coffee machine.
Frommer said he hopes Swon will have similar impact on our behavior to a fitness-tracking device like the Fitbit, which drives us to do a bit more exercise to hit our target number of steps each day.
“I truly believe that education drives learning and awareness drives behavior,” he continued. “A lot of the daily activities we, as consumers, go through we’re unaware of insofar as the impact that they have on the environment. I wanted to develop a product that would help drive awareness about how much the water we use by giving people that data. Hopefully that will have a positive impact.”
The positive impact will be both environmental and on our wallets. According to Frommer, Swon will reduce typical water consumption by more than 20 percent, while saving the user an average of $200 a year in utility costs.
Right now, the device is available to pre-order on Kickstarter, where it is sold for $35. It is reportedly compatible with 99 percent of all showers heads — though it is worth checking this in advance — and will start shipping in March, provided it hits its crowdfunding target of $50,000.
“Showering less isn’t going to save the environment on its own,” Frommer said. “But it’s just like recycling one can of Coca-Cola. If you figure that one can on its own doesn’t matter, that’s a bad attitude to have. Every little bit helps.”