4 ways AI is reshaping the future of water treatment

Dec. 22, 2023
Artificial intelligence has impacted the residential water sector by improving water treatment and customer options. Learn the possibilities here.

You have probably noticed how artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly changing many industries and roles, leading numerous companies and decision-makers to explore how it could improve residential water treatment options. Although many of the below possibilities are in the early stages and not yet widespread, these pioneering efforts could easily gain traction and become popular with consumers worldwide.

1. Give representatives more time to handle complex queries

Chatbots were among the first AI-driven tools to achieve widespread popularity and adoption. Many organizations now use them to support customer service teams. Chatbots can track residential water problems or trends, alerting them to possible significant issues within community networks.

Imagine a scenario where someone can ask a chatbot, “Why is the water from my kitchen faucet suddenly cloudy?” The answer provided by the tool could reassure customers that the problem is temporary and due to scheduled maintenance. It could also mention the water is still safe to drink or give customers an estimated timeline for when it should look normal again.

Colleges increasingly use chatbots to answer students’ questions, too, depending on one to keep those in residence halls abreast of area water treatment upgrades that will temporarily disrupt service to the dorms gives students quick peace of mind. It also eliminates the need to contact someone for further verification.

One business offering numerous in-home purification systems debuted a chatbot to help people learn about water treatment options or schedule in-home tests. Users can also prompt the chatbot to schedule future conversations with a customer service or sales representative. Since the tool is always available, it reduces the friction that might otherwise cause people to delay getting at-home treatment products or change their minds about needing them.

In another case, residential customers can use a chatbot to report issues such as strange water colors or visible sewage. These can indicate which communities may need urgent attention or prioritization for future investment.

Since many chatbots are multilingual, they remove language barriers and help fill knowledge gaps in customer service teams. Employees then have more time and mental capacity to devote to the complicated issues that chatbots cannot address.

2. Help households use treated water more sustainably

Residential water treatment products are most likely to succeed when they address well-defined customer needs. Consider a case where the owner of a brand offering water filtration options expanded to provide solutions to clean the air, too. His organization ran studies that showed a crossover between people with air and water quality concerns.

People from many technology companies have seen similarly shared interests between residents who want to purify and conserve their water while enjoying advanced gadgets. Smart showerheads are excellent examples — many remove impurities such as rust while reducing elements that can give the water an unpleasant smell. Sensor-equipped models regulate the flow or turn off the stream when someone steps away from the showerhead. Some models have AI voice-recognition features that detect specific commands to set a timer or change the song playing through a nearby speaker.

Residents also appreciate having faucet-based systems that can treat the water from their bathroom or kitchen faucets, removing impurities and improving taste. People who prioritize water conservation and treatment can invest in smart systems that purify the water and prevent waste. AI options can respond to people’s gestures or automatically activate or turn off a home’s water valves to stop leaks when the house is empty.

Industrial water use is significant, especially when purification is required. For example, producing water for injection in pharmaceutical plants is 70% more resource-intensive than other methods. However, industrial leaders have made strategic decisions to increase sustainability. That can happen at home, too, thanks to thoughtful and sustainable upgrades like those mentioned above.

3. Build healthy hydration habits

Even when people have access to clean water, many distrust what comes from the tap. That trend has led to increased bottled water consumption, which simultaneously exacerbates a plastic waste problem. However, efforts are underway to solve this problem.

Consider one business’s vending machine that dispenses liquid and reusable containers for a greener alternative to conventional bottled water. This closed-loop hydration system also tracks valuable data points, such as how many times each container and water station gets used and by whom.

Other reusable water bottle brands have targeted consumers in similar ways, using artificial intelligence to help people track how much water they drink and improve their intake if necessary. The selling point of one consumer bottle is it can scan the liquid and measure the total dissolved solids present in the water.

Some companies have moved beyond chemical test strips for water quality and provided connected sensors that can differentiate between clean and contaminated water, including by giving applicable particle counts. If these became widely available to consumers at affordable prices, people would feel empowered about water monitoring from home.

Such readings can give people the confidence they need to hydrate more without worries. Alternatively, they could flag in-home water treatment shortcomings, encouraging people to invest in filters and similarly effective accessories.

Many consumer water bottles also connect to apps and help people track how their hydration levels change. Some offer visual reminders to encourage people to take more sips throughout the day. Relatedly, researchers have used machine learning to measure how much water users consume each time they drink. The associated innovations go beyond time-based reminders and could alert people to increase their overall intake.

4. Encourage people to recycle water safely

Water scarcity is a major worldwide concern. Many projects examine safe and effective ways to recycle water. If those initiatives gain momentum, scarcity and the associated limitations will be less restrictive.

Water recycling systems for residential use still represent a relatively niche market. However, specific individuals are particularly interested in them, including camping enthusiasts and disaster preppers. These solutions urge people to think about water differently and be open to recycling it at home when possible. Artificial intelligence can make that easier and give consistent treatment outcomes.

Such products are also ideal for areas of limited infrastructure, such as those recently hit by natural disasters. An award-winning Japanese product called the WOTA BOX is a portable water reuse system that treats the liquid with a five-stage filtering process. Artificial intelligence controls the sensor-equipped device, which comes with an optional tent for showering.

The WOTA BOX has helped more than 10,000 people take showers at disaster shelters after floods and earthquakes. It is a particularly useful product in many areas under restrictions due to droughts. It allows up to 100 people to take showers with 100 liters of water — a significant improvement, considering one typically requires 40 to 50 liters. This product also helps people wash their hands for better cleanliness while camping.

Accessible water recycling systems like this one are increasingly important since people never know what the future holds. For example, California has had floods and droughts throughout its history. Some residential customers have been eligible for rebates if they buy products or make other changes to use less water.

The future of residential water treatment looks bright

These are some of the many ways people can apply artificial intelligence to improve water treatment options for residents. As individuals try more applications, additional use cases will become more widespread.

About the Author

Emily Newton

Emily Newton is the editor in chief of Revolutionized, a popular science publication that dives into the latest innovations in science, technology and industry. 

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