“We want to change the attitude” – Australian students develop smart water meters

Greencubator talked to Ami Pasricha and Horace Josh – the finalists of the Shell Ideas360 competition with their SMART Water project. We already highlighted the SMART Water story and were delighted to talk to people behind it. Both Ami and Horace are studying electrical engineering at Monash University, Australia and take great joy in developing the the new approaches to existing problems.

G.: Ami, Horace, could you tell a couple of words on how the team came together?

Ami: We worked with Horace together last summer on the research project and then Kali (Kali Wong, team member – G.), one of my classmates who seemed really passionate and keen about everything joined us. So, that’s how we came along.

G.: What was your inspiration for SMART Water?

Ami: In our country at the moment we face a lot of issues with water shortages and we thought SMART Water was the way we could possibly help to tackle some of them. It was inspired by smart electricity meters which are like real time monitoring devices for electricity (Interesting: TeslaCamp 2013 winners Ecois.me who work on developing electricity meters recently raised $100,000 investment from Deutsche Telekom). And because our country is leaning towards smart technology we thought “why not also include that with water?”.

Horace: We’ve had water restrictions over the past ten years, so people are ready to cut down on things like washing their car. It seems like the next step.

G.: So your target audience is Australia?

Horace: Initially, yes. But I guess it can be expanded anywhere in the world.

G.: Could you describe the behavioral transformation that your project is moving to? What do you want to change in behavior of Australians and citizens of the world by your project?

Ami: We want to change the attitude – in achieving goals and working together to save the water and change your lifestyle. We want to encourage the water saving lifestyle among the generations to eventually influence other issues like energy and food – what Shell Ideas 360 is all about.

G.: Can you describe briefly the technology behind the SMART Water, how long did it take you to develop it?

Horace: For the competition we had a pretty basic prototype, it took us a couple of weeks to put it together. It was comprised of a small sensor looking like a tap attachment with some electronics inside, measuring the water usage as the water processes through it. And then we connected up some electronics to that in order to count the water usage over time period on display.

Ami: Along with that in the concept we had a mobile phone application which we haven’t developed jet. The system will run through the mobile app, because everything is on an app these days.

G: What was the development after the Shell Ideas360*? Did you develop an app for that?

Ami: Not yet. We still are doing a bit more research. We’re mainly looking at the design of the sensor to make it a little more aesthetically  pleasing. Because no one wants a massive thing attached onto the tap. We’re also looking for developers, people who can make an app, so I think we would definitely look at the possibility of taking part in the hackathon.

G.: Are there any analogies in the world?

Horace: We didn’t find anything. There are few companies that are doing similar things with temperature sensing, for example, the UK company Nest Labs was bought by Google. This is an example of some other things you can do with smart meters.

G.: Do you think so far SMART Water is a successful project?

Ami: We’re still at the early stage, we’re talking to people at the moment, so it’s just about getting our research done and then observing what goes from that. But that is definitely a thing we could benefit from.

G.: So what are you working on right now?

Ami: I am working on a research project which have to do with the monitoring of the heart rate and PPG signals, I’m writing an algorithm to get proper functioning device, which can detect your heart rate as you exercise.

G.: Horace, you’re working on your PhD, right?  What is it about?

Horace: The whole project is aiming to create a brain implant that would allow blind people to have some sort of vision. My PhD project is part of that, I’m looking at image processing for that device. There will be very small micro chips that will be implanted at the back of the brain and they will have a number of electrons on them so each tile will have about 40 electrons. There will be a coil at the back of the head that will transfer power and data wirelessly to these tiles and data will be coming from a digital camera images that are being processed. So this processing part is something I’m looking at – because there will be only a few hundred of electrons and each electron will cause one black spot, whereas the digital camera will have millions of pixels so you have to decide how to re-seize that in order to get the most of information from hi-resolution image down to a very-very low-resolution.

If you are interested in the topic, Greencubator suggests to watch a TED Talk “I listen to color”

G: What are your plans for the future?

Ami & Horace: We want to finish our studies and maybe create a startup.

Greencubator wishes good luck to the SMART Water team!

Transcription and editing: Maryana Andrusyshyn, Natalia Sniegur, Kseniia Choni

Матеріал підготовлений за підтримки компанії “Шелл в Україні”

*Деталі конкурсу: www.shell.ua
Реєстрація ідей: www.shellideas360.com

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