So, you ask, did CES® 2018 yield a watershed moment for the connected home? If the number of water-related devices introduced this week in Las Vegas was any indication, your home may be on course for a flood of new devices designed to help save or even generate water, make water usage a hands-free experience, or inject technology into your plumbing. Below are some of the highlights that emerged in the past week.
Kitchen and bath fixture giant Kohler placed their toe into the connected home at CES with a bevy of products designed to be controlled through all of the predominant voice-activated ecosystems, including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit (and by association through the Apple Siri digital assistant). Kohler Konnect is built into a range of new products—including showers, bathtubs, toilets, mirrors, and faucets—integrated with the home network and managed through the new Kohler smartphone app.
Among the products are the Sensate kitchen faucet, where a range of voice commands can be used to not only turn the water on or off, but to dispense a specific volume of water. A sensor on the faucet monitors the fixture for leaks and can notify the Kohler app when such an event is connected.
Other Konnect products include the Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror and the DTV+ shower system—plus bathtubs with Kohler PerfectFill technology that can draw a bath to a preferred temperature through voice commands issued from, say, the comfort of your bed.
A smart water product emerging from a joint venture between electronics maker Belkin International and Finland-based plumbing systems manufacturer Uponor, Phyn Plus is a sophisticated water monitor that is designed to immediately alert the homeowner and automatically shut off the water supply in the event of a leak. The system can also sense potential problems in the plumbing system so pre-emptive repairs can be implemented before they cause damage down the road.
As this is a whole-home water monitoring system, the single Phyn Plus module needs to be installed on the main water intake line (either inside or outside of the home) by one of the selected plumbing professionals on the Uponor Pro Squad, a nationwide group of specialists. Uponor will begin rolling out Phyn Plus and the Uponor Pro Squad in 2018 across selected metropolitan areas of the U.S.
From a single location in the home, Phyn Plus monitors the entire plumbing system and measures microscopic changes in water pressure 240 times per second. The device “fingerprints” typical water usage events—such as flushing a toilet, watering the lawn, or washing your hands—to store the unique water pressure profile of each fixture, then uses machine learning to detect changes in pressure caused by leaks and then take appropriate alerting actions.
U by Moen Digital Shower
Embracing the Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit ecosystems, Moen brings voice activation services to the bathing experience with the U by Moen Digital Shower, the first of what is expected to be an expanding line of fixtures from the kitchen and bath fixture company that can be controlled with simple spoken commands, through a smartphone app, or with touch controls on the fixture.
In a U by Moen shower installation, voice commands can be used to start, stop, or pause the shower, start the shower at a specific temperature, or activate preset showering configurations that have been made in the U by Moen app. The shower-mounted controller will be available in 2- and 4-outlet configurations.
Moen says the Amazon Alexa-enabled products will begin shipping in Q1 2018, while Apple HomeKit and Siri integration will follow in Q2 2018.
Zero Mass Water Source Hydropanel
Startup Zero Mass Water is looking to reengineer your rooftop into a water production plant with Source, a so-called hydropanel that is capable of producing drinking water from merely sunlight and air. Requiring no external power source, a self-contained Source array incorporates advanced water capture technology and is powered by an onboard solar panel—and can produce the equivalent of 12 to 20 half-liter bottles of drinking water per day.
When sized for residential use, a standard Source array consists of two individual 4-by-8-foot panels designed with reservoirs to hold 30 liters of water. A single solar panel and a storage battery provide electrical power to enable water production when the sun is shining, as well as water delivery at night or on cloudy days.
The science behind the water production process entails drawing ambient air into the unit where water vapor in the air is absorbed into a specially-developed hydroscopic material. Water vapor then passes through a condenser, producing liquid water which is then routed to the reservoir at the base of each unit. Water is mineralized and treated with Ozone to maintain water quality, then delivered to the homeowner through a filtered wall-mounted dispenser inside the home.