Product: Shower Head
Video Showerhead conserves water   (+3, -3)  [vote for, against]
Targeted spray hits just your body

The shower head generally appears as any other but each tiny jet is individually controllable (on/off). A small video camera in the shower head feeds visual data to the CPU also within shower head.

The CPU recognizes the human body though the steam clouds and optionally performs a predictive analysis of human motions. The jets are turned on just before someone’s arm/leg/body part moves to that position. For the most part your central body trunk doesn’t move that much (easier or no prediction needed) and that is what’s most uncomfortable when not being sprayed. When you leave the shower the spray stops. When the shower is first activated it will sense water temperature and allow warm up (full on), or just a time delay. Couples or a dog in the shower will be more difficult to analyze.

Gesture signals could be use to force full on/off mode for soaping up or head only/body only for shampooing, etc. No fussing with a dial to select spray patterns, use a gesture to select: concentric circles, random pulse etc.

So how to individually activate the nozzles: Muscle wires (flexinol) are currently too slow to track fast motions but would generally work (hot water would slow contraction), polymer muscles still in lab, micro solenoids etc etc. Mineral build up at the valves will be reduced with the frequent cycling.

Power to the unit could be a battery (I don’t think 120 AC is so good here) or small turbine extracting some energy from the water flow (like an oscillating lawn sprinkler).

The water pressure could function as the return spring for each valve (if default is closed with water running). Default is nozzles open with full water pressure almost enough to close any valve so little power is required to close, once closed the water holds it shut so a small reverse power is all that’s needed to reopen. If default was closed nozzles then with turbine there is no power to start (and a rechargeable battery could lose power if shower not used frequently or just out of box).

Not much benefit (and adding much to the complexity) we could have each nozzle steer able to concentrate the water for massage/extra to remove shampoo from head etc. In addition it would be possible for the valve to vary the opening instead of on/off for hard and soft spray or to increase water conservation further.

Options: Built in Radio/iPod with gesture control of selection and volume, water spray pulses to music beat.

Additional search terms: Environment, Ecology, AI, Intelligent, Bath
-- Widgit, Mar 30 2005

Does installation and soak testing (ha) require an engineer to watch the video output to tune the system for optimum performance?
-- DenholmRicshaw, Mar 30 2005

So I wouldn't be able to move out of the spray to soap myself up, then?
-- contracts, Mar 30 2005

I think you'd have to save an awful lot of water to balance out the embedded-energy cost of a CCTV system with built-in iPod. (-) for claiming some sort of eco-triumph.
-- moomintroll, Mar 30 2005

As far as moving out of the spray to soap up think about how you do it move back out of the general spray area, with this product the shower would stop since you are no longer in the spray path. In addition you have the option of using a gesture to stop flow or limit flow to selected body portion without having to scoot way to the back of the tub.

For testing the unit we would dry test with a simulated video feed of a person in a shower (or a test pattern) and a test jig sensing if all the valves activate as expected, I don’t think other shower head manufacturers wet test theirs either.

Yes, the cost factor is a concern of course, if an average shower is 10 minutes that comes out to 25 gallons (using an existing 2.5 gpm low flow shower head). A family of 3 for a year gives us over 27 thousand gallons. Lets say the device saves 25% (unverified) of water usage: 27K * 25% gallons * .00085 cents per gallon = $5.8 per year savings or $58 over a 10 year shower head life. While water costs are rising the cost of electronics is falling so this could be viable (especially where desalination plants are used to create clean water at a 25% higher per gallon cost). This would also reduce carbon dioxide emissions (in California 10% of energy cost is spent pumping water) at .007 cubic foot per gallon = 45 cubic feet per same family per year.

The radio/iPod was a fun accessory item and not at all needed for the operational aspect. The CCTV cost is coming down rapidly I think I have already seen one PC video camera system given away for free with mail-in coupon at Office Depot or similar, in this case we already have the housing as any other shower head, no USB cable or CD etc. Perhaps the main cost will be the many little valves rather than the electronics?

Of course if you want less serious I will manufacture with a Zigbee/Bluetooth/Wifi wireless chip which transmits a compressed and encrypted video stream. Pay for time unlock encryption and watch that neighbor you adore take showers.
-- Widgit, Mar 30 2005

Could we do this by applying a positive charge to the shower tray and a negative charge to the water? Anyone standing in the shower would attract the water to all the right places.

<aside>I'm feeling a mental image of lightning conductors - sharp pointy objects - charge leakage from the tips of things...</aside>

Optionally stick a camera in the shower, stream (hah) to the public Internet and donate the profits to an eco-charity.
-- DenholmRicshaw, Mar 30 2005

random, halfbakery