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Weekly Innovation: Hey, You're Taking Too Long In The Shower

The Uji shower head will be available for sale in early 2014. Its light turns from green to red as the shower progresses.
Courtesy of Brett Andler
The Uji shower head will be available for sale in early 2014. Its light turns from green to red as the shower progresses.

This week's innovation pick is a shower head that reminds you you're taking too long. gradually turns from green to red as users linger in the shower.

"It encourages [people] to take shorter and more energy efficient showers," said one of the co-inventors, Brett Andler. "By letting people become aware of how long they're in the shower, we've actually been able to cut shower time by 12 percent."

Priced at about $50, the Uji shower head will pay for itself in energy and water savings after only seven months of use, according to the developers. After this, they say, the shower head will save you about $85/year installed.

Andler says he and fellow Tufts University grads Sam Woolf and Tyler Wilson designed this light-up shower head as part of a mechanical engineering class in the spring.

"We were all interested in green technology and saving the environment," Andler said. "So we were looking at an untackled problem and realized, shower heads. We wanted a product that will pay for itself really quickly and look and feel just as good as a non-eco-friendly counterpart."

Andler submitted the Uji on our open form for Weekly Innovation ideas and it caught our eye. The idea also got the attention of the Department of Energy and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, whose grants helped pay for prototyping and testing the Uji shower. The former classmates are now seeking angel funding — and talking with big players in this space, like Symmons — as they move into production.

According to Andler, at least four universities have committed to piloting the shower heads in their dorms once the Uji is produced.

"It's a great use case to sell directly to universities and use that as a way to build up revenue and trust," Andler said. But if you want an Uji shower head for your home, the team is hoping to have them available for purchase by early 2014.

Update on August 22:

Readers have been curious how long you get to shower before the light turns red. Andler tells us the Uji currently turns red in about seven minutes so people get out of the shower by minute eight. But, he says, "We're still playing around with [this]. We may have models that let users set their own time, and we may modify the current 7 minutes. We're still looking to find the best balance between savings and comfort."

In our "Weekly Innovation" blog series, we explore an interesting idea, design or product that you may not have heard of yet. Do you have an innovation to share? Use this quick form .

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elise Hu is a host-at-large based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Previously, she explored the future with her video series, Future You with Elise Hu, and served as the founding bureau chief and International Correspondent for NPR's Seoul office. She was based in Seoul for nearly four years, responsible for the network's coverage of both Koreas and Japan, and filed from a dozen countries across Asia.