Prof. Jiaying Zhao’s research inspires a new product to change water-use habits

Photo of Droppler by Nascent Objects

Photo of Droppler by Nascent Objects

UBC’s Behavioural Sustainability Lab has partnered with Nascent Objects, a Silicon Valley company, to develop a new water conservation product called Droppler.

Droppler is a modular device that uses sound recognition to track water consumption and translates the consumption into an instant visual signal in real-time. When Droppler detects sounds of running water from the sink or the shower, it will automatically show decreasing light levels as water is being used.

Prof. Jiaying Zhao, Principal Investigator of the Lab, says this is a prime example of how you can use psychological research to design behavioural solutions to address sustainability challenges.

“This product is based on the research that was performed in our lab,” says Zhao. “A product like Droppler, with its immediate, visual feedback of water use, will have a dramatic impact on individual water consumption habits.”

The scientific evidence that supports a product like Droppler comes from a series of experiments conducted at the Behavioural Sustainability Lab, which demonstrate that the visibility of resources directly reduces consumption. The findings have been presented at the 2015 Annual Conference of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, and the paper is being submitted for journal publication.

Droppler is the first product built with Nascent, one of the world’s first modular consumer electronics platform. Its design, requiring no plumbing or wiring, connects with an app to analyze water consumption, compare against local averages, and to show how small changes in water use lead to big results.

This innovative product was introduced this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Dr. Jiaying Zhao is a Canada Research Chair and assistant professor jointly appointed in UBC’s Department of Psychology and Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability.

Nascent Objects is a Silicon Valley IoT company that uses 3D printed circuitry and modular electronics to bring products to life.

-Bonnie Vockeroth