Water Watcher

Finalist category: BT Young Pioneer Award


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BT Young Pioneer Award, Winner, 2018

A cheap way to reduce water wastage worldwide.

Developed by a team of four home educated students, the Water Watcher looks to provide a simple and inexpensive solution to the problem of running taps and water wastage worldwide.

The Water Works team: Alex Lynch (16), Elye Cuthbertson (14), Atticus Ticheli (12), Saul Cuthbertson (9), designed the device as part of an engineering competition which included solving a world water problem. They were inspired to find a solution to the issue that one of the team was experiencing – being dyslexic and encountering memory lapses, he had sometimes forgotten to turn the tap off after use – once flooding the bathroom of a friend.

Water wastage is costly and uses up precious natural resources, and the team realised that this wastage could affect many others with memory problems due to dyslexia, dementia or brain injury. Researching the current solutions available they realised there was nothing on the market that solved this, so went about designing the Water Watcher.

The Water Watcher is a small, simple and non-expensive device which fits on to any tap and once activated by the vibrations of the water, uses a timer and alarm system to alert the user if the tap is left on too long. The team wanted it to be simple to use – for those who may be less comfortable with technology – so it doesn’t need plumbing and can be easily strapped onto any sized faucet.

The prototype uses simple technology: a BBC Micro:bit with inbuilt accelerometer to sense the vibration from the water, a battery pack, a simple speaker and a silicone coin purse (to protect the device from water).  In their research, they realised that the whole device could be shrunk down using smaller micro-processors, vibration sensor, a cell battery and integral alarm. The silicone casing is small, can be any colour and uses an integral easy to use strap to attach.

A company are now taking the Water Watcher forwards into production – keeping costs as low as possible so it stays affordable to all who need it. The device’s potential to save water and prevent flooding has been recognised by organisations such as Thames Water, WaterWise and Alzheimer’s Society.

The Water Works team has proven that even using simple, inexpensive and readily available technology, to design something new can have a powerful effect for good on the world.

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