We've been prototyping ways to bring technology to the bathroom in order to address a water-starved future.
Provoked by the question of 'how can we measure water usage', the first prototype uses a wireless flow sensor box allows inexpensive and accurate measurement of liquid in any fresh water line in the home. Attached it to the cold or hot water lines under your sink, bathtub, toilet, or washing machine. The flow sensor box is wirelessly connected to a base-station using Xbee, an inexpensive RF wireless communication chipset. The base station is connected to the internet using Ninja Blocks. Ninja Blocks are tiny cloud-enabled computers that can sense their environment by receiving input from the flow sensor.
The water usage data is aggregated online for analysis by Unilever and/or the user anywhere, at any time. Unilever can analyze the data of one user or thousands of users. The demonstration here is an actual representation of live, wireless tracking of the water flow through the sensor box, which is battery powered in this case.
The second prototype asked 'how can we maintain the emotional aspects of a shower while reducing water consumption?'. A table-top sized prototype of this concept was developed with two small ultrasonic misters to create a fog/mist experience in a contained reservoir. Very little water is needed to create and maintain a refreshing, soothing mist that can be used for both cleansing and relaxation. A user can wash parts of their body using the mist. The device could also provide opportunities for relaxation through the scent and touch of steam-like mist.
The end-product could be larger scale (like a full-size shower) or a small scale, table-top device.