Smart Water Filter is a Step Toward the Home of the Future

Smart Water Filter is a Step Toward the Home of the Future

Smart Water Filter

My dad used to work for Raytheon, which in addition to being a defense contractor, also has subsidiaries that make home appliances and consumer goods.1 He would sometimes bring home promotional material from the company that he thought pre-teen or teen me would find interesting and I vividly recall one of them was a look forward at the home of the future.2 This fanciful speculation included lights that turned on automatically at night; thermostats that set themselves according to the schedules of the family, the season, and the weather; washing machine and dryer that sensed how dirty the clothes were and adjusted their cycles and water use accordingly.

You see what I'm getting at? All these things have come to pass3, maybe not in the same way and not universally, but enough that it can feel like the future we imagined.

One of the promises for the future home was a refrigerator that tracked the food in it and, when you used it up, placed it on your shopping list. We do that somewhat today with shopping list software on our iPhones, scanning bar codes for items that have them as we use them up. It’s not quite automatic ordering, but it’s a step forward.

Amazon promised a little more timesaving help with its Dash buttons. These are small item-specific buttons that are connected to the Internet and programmed to order a specific brand’s product when you press it. So, for instance, you have a little button with a Tide logo on it by the washing machine and as you notice the detergent getting low, you press the button which creates a new order on and, voilà, in a couple days a new bottle of detergent arrives.4

Brita Smart Water Filter

Now they gone a step further, incorporating the Dash button right into the product. They’ve partnered with Brita on their new Infinity water filter and we’ve received one for review.5 Instead of a button to press to order a water filter refill, the pitcher keeps track of how much water it runs through it. When it reaches 36 gallons, it orders the refill filter cartridge and then when you hit 40 gallons you replace the old one.

It’s a big step in the direction of that automated home of the future, but there are some caveats. First, the amount of water filtered is not tracked through some flow control sensor, but by the cruder approximation of how many times the top is opened to refill the filtering chamber. So, when you set up your new Brita pitcher, you are advised to only open the lid when you are filling the chamber. You are also told to refill the chamber only when it is empty. This is problematic because the chamber is relatively small, only holding about quart at a time, and it’s opaque so you can’t really tell when it’s empty. You just have to guess when you can put more water. It’s not the end of the world; just not as convenient as it could be.

Likewise, this isn’t the end of all household drudgery, but it is a step forward, a glimpse at that future so long promised. I still long for the day of the truly smart home that knows exactly what’s in the fridge and freezer and pantry and can suggest dishes to make for dinner tonight based on what you have and then tracks what you need to purchase next time you go to the store, all without human intervention. But not having to remember when to replace the water filter—“How many months has that been in there?”—is enough for me for now.

  1. They were the inventors of the microwave oven, after all. ↩︎
  2. Try as I might, I can’t find this online, although I can still picture the illustrations in my mind. I would love to find a copy again. ↩︎
  3. Phillips Hue lights, Nest Learning Thermostat ↩︎
  4. If you have kids, you see the obvious weakness as well as I do: kids playing with the buttons. That’s why Amazon built in an additional step of a confirmation of your order being sent as an email. It lowers the convenience factor a bit, but in favor of fewer bottles of detergent showing up unexpectedly. ↩︎
  5. It doesn’t appear to be available for sale to the public yet as of this writing. ↩︎
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