Photo: Carsten Broder Hansen

Avoid pointing fingers at users

Thursday 02 Jun 16
On a cycle ride home from lectures on Ballerup Campus, two BEng students came up with a winning idea.

You can do a lot of talking on a bike ride from DTU Ballerup Campus to Nørrebro in Copenhagen. So the two BEng students—Esben Grande and Rasmus Thude—had plenty of time to discuss the sustainable solution they wanted to work on for their ‘Green Entrepreneurship’ course, which is part of the Green Challenge competition

From the outset, they were not looking to come up with a super hi-tech solution. Instead, they were keen to generate value for as many users as possible, and—in particular—to encourage as many people as possible to make green choices.

They soon worked out that there was a need to highlight overconsumption in everyday life, and that we tend not to think about how long we spend in the shower. From these initial discussions stemmed the idea for WaterCue. And the idea proved to be so good—and so simple—that together with their fellow student Peder Mannerup they took first prize in the ‘Bachelor course concept’ category at the 2015 Green Challenge

.Photo: DTU

“WaterCue doesn’t turn off the water, but it changes colour after about five minutes. According to the experts, five minutes is a responsible amount of time to spend in the shower; it’s equivalent to about 60 1.5-litre bottles,” relates Esben.

“We think we should avoid pointing fingers at the users. It won’t help to say ‘We’ll shut off the water if you’re in the shower for one second more than five minutes!’ But if we can encourage people to cut even a couple of minutes off their shower time, we will have made a big difference.”

Desktop research of the market revealed that while comparable products were available, they were of poor quality, impractical, too advanced, extremely expensive and/or non-sustainable to produce.
The three students cannot reveal too many details about their own product as they are currently applying for a patent for their invention. However, they have built a prototype and a life cycle analysis reveals that by using recycled plastic, it can be manufactured and distributed sustainably.

“We don’t quite know what’s going to happen with our invention. At the moment, we’re weighed down with our course projects, and our invention hasn’t yet resulted in an actual start-up. But who knows ...”

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