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Nest Flow

For the last four years, California has been going through a severe drought. Yet though much has been done to raise awareness of the issue, for many Americans, usable water is viewed as a limitless resource, easily obtainable through the turn of a faucet. The goal of this project was to create a new experience for home water use that educates and incentivizes with an easily understandable design as well as partnerships with local water providers, with the goal being to ultimately modify people's behavior at the tap.

Team: Daryl Harris, Alison Acoba

Methodologies: User interview, contextual inquiry, survey, A/B testing, wireframing, prototyping

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User Research

Water Consumption Survey

To better understand people’s relationships with water, we sent out a survey asking users about their water use. We received 38 responses from a variety of homeowners and renters. In the user research, we discovered that there was a disparity between people’s perception of their own awareness of water issues and the translation of that awareness into actual action.

Key Takeaways

  • There is a noticeable gap between knowledge and action when it comes to water consumption
  • People care about water consumption in general, but don't seem to understand how to incorporate that into their own water use

The question then Becomes...

How do we present information in a way that influences behavior?


The intention was originally to design apps for the 1) Apple Watch and 2) iPhone, both of which, linked up to small sensors installed at each faucet, would serve as gentle behavior modulators for water use.

However, this idea didn't sit well with us, since we couldn't shake the nagging thought that it was absurd to expect people to not only bring their devices, but actively keep an eye on them near water.



    Pivot Point

    So we decided to pivot, deciding instead to design:

    1. a sensor interface, which would be installed near faucets and serve to present water flow in a visual way that's easy to observe
    2. an iPhone app intended not to modulate behavior at the tap specifically, but to present data of live water usage in various parts of the house 
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    Nest Flow Sensor Iterations


    User Persona

    Our user persona, Desiree, served as a reference throughout our design process.

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    Mobile Live FLow Sensor

    In order to present the water flow information on the mobile app in the most easily comprehensible way possible, we went through multiple iterations of the live flow design.


    Tracking Progress

    A key role that the mobile application serves is as a tracker of water usage activity. To accomplish this, we explored different ways of presenting time information.

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    Alerts & Settings

    Apart from modifying behaviors at the tap, we also wanted Nest Flow to have practical usage in detecting abnormalities, such as leaks.

    Making the app customizable allows the app to better detect abnormalities.  From the settings page, one is able to adjust household size (for personalized recommendations and tracking), as well as monitor statuses of individual sensors.