Easy access to clean water in Canada, specifically Vancouver, has caused individuals to use it more and think about it less. Despite the ongoing global water crisis, the majority of individuals in this region remain oblivious to how water scarcity would affect them because they are not yet experiencing it first-hand.
Unlike in parts of the world where access to water is less efficient or water supply is already scarce, people tend to be more conservative and resourceful when it comes to their consumption habits and methods, therefore minimizing their overall water footprint.
“By 2040, most of the world won’t have enough water to meet demand year-round. It’s either we find alternatives to producing or accessing this resource or simply, conserve and consume less of what we already have access to.”
“The World Water Crisis.” Explained, season 1, episode 19, Netflix, 12 Sep. 2018.
The current free-flowing shower system makes access to clean water extremely convenient, but because of this, people tend to use it more and think about it less.
Despite the ongoing global water crisis, individuals tend to take longer showers than necessary, and the free-flowing aspect makes it difficult for people to get a sense of how much water is actually being used.
The design opportunity first came to mind when I looked back at my move to Canada in 2017 as an international student. I noticed that clean water was so easily accessible to the point where I felt like I was taking it for granted. I was humbly reminded of my childhood in the Philippines, where water shortages were common and access to clean water was (or still is) a privilege.
Because of this, I wanted to explore ways that could make individuals more mindful of their water consumption — since this was a problem that I dealt with growing up and it is still an ongoing crisis all over the world.
Minimize usage 💧
Ensure that individuals are mindful of their consumption in the shower and develop a more conscious mindset towards water usage after using the app.
Make showering enjoyable 😌
Find an affordance for users to maintain an enjoyable shower experience while proving effectiveness in minimizing their water footprint in the shower.
Encourage continued use 🔁
Validate progress and accomplishment to increase satisfaction and value, encouraging individuals to continue product use.
“How might we utilize existing elements in peoples’ shower routines to increase their awareness of their water consumption habits while maintaining an enjoyable shower experience?”
Since this project heavily focuses on peoples’ behaviours in the shower, I went for a human-centered design approach, as I wanted to focus the process around two co-designers.
I engaged with Margaret and Miguel through immersive research, user interviews, journey mapping, and user testing. The majority of my design decisions were based on the outcome of those, resulting in a highly collaborative design process.
Through immersive research and co-design, I designed Trickle, a mobile application that focuses on creating conscious experiences in the western shower system as a response to the ongoing global water crisis.
Trickle aims to heighten awareness towards peoples’ current water consumption habits, help them understand value, and encourage a change of behaviour, before it’s too late.
It is a mobile application that guides individuals through taking small, but over time, impactful steps towards reducing their water footprint, starting with the shower.
Minimize Water Usage
Trickle’s goal is to make individuals mindful of the time spent in the shower and have them consciously minimize their usage.
The application uses music as a medium to measure time, as it indicates consumption in a free-flowing shower system while ensuring that shower time can still be enjoyed.
Trickle can be used with any music app or streaming service, as it will play songs through the device’s control center.
Measure & Listen
The timer calculates amounts based on the duration of the songs that an individual listens to while they shower.
A countdown begins once the music starts, the individual is notified (either through sound tones or audio) when they reach certain points of their shower, and the music stops once the limit is reached. To avoid this disruption, they must stay within their limited amounts.
If the individual finishes before their timer ends, the timer will stop, but the music will keep playing for them to enjoy.
Make Saving Enjoyable
The reward system within the application enables individuals to occasionally extend their shower time as incentives for accomplishing water-saving goals.
These goals were designed to ensure that people continue to be mindful of their consumption in the shower, be encouraged to continue using only what they need, and have a conscious mindset towards water usage after using the app.
When the individual finishes their shower, they can view their totals, averages, and usage statistics within the app.
Trickle automatically sets recommended time limits based on the average water flow rate for a specific location. Individuals can also use a custom flow rate calculator within the app for more accuracy.
Test the embedded interactive prototype below or click the button to view the project book!