BACKGROUND // In 2016, the drought in California was reaching quite extreme levels causing bans on excess water usage. Though it makes up only ~10% of water consumption, there seemed to be an opportunity for a consumer level device to reduce water usage, as this was a topic on many people’s minds.
BRIEF // Create a device to track and help people manage the water usage in their kitchen.
TEAM // Mechanical Engineering; Industrial Design; Electrical Engineering; Research & Strategy; User Experience; Mobile Development
ROLE // Prototype Software Developer
SKILLS // Android Development
RESULT // Since the projects started as a side project by the company President, some of the work had been done up front on the electronics and firmware. But there was still much to be done to create a product from his rough electrical prototype.
- The Research and Strategy team was brought in to evaluate the market size for a device like this and to strategize about what the best value opportunity was for the device we were working on.
- The Electrical Engineering team was brought in to reconstruct the electronics, now with Bluetooth Low Energy, and spin out a small batch of PCB’s.
- Industrial design was asked to redesign the enclosure for the solenoids and sensors, as well as the peripheral attachment; just because it is located under the sink doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to look sharp.
- The UX team explored layouts for a mobile app that would serve as the dashboard for the user’s water statistics and ability to control the flow.
Working closely with both the UX and EE teams, I wrote the Android application that interfaced with the hardware and the remote server that archived all the device’s data. From the EE side, there were conversations and learning around the BLE communication. This was the first time that I had written a full Android application and the BLE was a big unknown from both the hardware and software sides.
Part of the challenge with the UX team, who were not extremely experienced with the Android Material Guide, was to identify what type of features were work implementing. We had a tight feedback loop so that I could help them prioritize features that we wanted based on development effort.
Ultimately, we developed quite an elegant, holistic product. Where it goes, is still yet to be seen.