Author Topic: Osiris Smart Water Monitor  (Read 3482 times)

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Offline PointyOintment

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Osiris Smart Water Monitor
« on: March 22, 2017, 05:09:44 am »
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/910764625/osiris-the-65-smart-water-monitor

It's a device that you strap onto a water pipe, and it measures how much water you use, using a microphone of some kind. The app lets you set water consumption goals and track your usage. If the water is running when it shouldn't, it'll alert you to check for leaks. It'll also alert you if the temperature is falling and the pipes might freeze soon.

Looks alright to me. The product is both physically and technologically possible. Their team has an analog designer, a digital designer, and only one manager. They say they've been developing "smart devices" for 14 years. (Anybody used their microvoltmeter or nanoammeter?) They seem to have good manufacturing partners. Their oscilloscope-displaying-a-sine-wave photo looks more like a real lab than most.

Two things stood out to me, though:
  • How does it convert sounds into water flow rate, even though different pipes, faucets, etc. surely sound different? It doesn't! It seems they're only counting minutes the water is running, not integrating rate of flow over time to determine how much water is actually used. A short shower likely uses more water than leaving the water running while brushing your teeth, but this device might count them as equal or the latter as a greater use of water depending on how long you take.
  • They say they have a patent pending on this technology. I thought they might mean they're patenting an algorithm to convert sounds into water flow rate, which sounds like a reasonable thing to patent. But if they're only timing water usage, not measuring flow rate, they must not have (or want to use) such an algorithm. So are they patenting on/off detection of water flow in a pipe by sound? That should fail the obviosity test. They do say, though, that you can mount the device on any pipe in the house and it will work just as well, because the sound conducts through the entire plumbing system, so maybe they have an algorithm to help with that?
« Last Edit: March 22, 2017, 05:15:47 am by PointyOintment »
 

Offline DTJ

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Re: Osiris Smart Water Monitor
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2017, 05:24:00 am »
Reading their page, it's not clear if it measures water flow or simply detects flowing water.
 

Offline PointyOintment

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Re: Osiris Smart Water Monitor
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2017, 06:08:25 am »
Reading their page, it's not clear if it measures water flow or simply detects flowing water.

I'm pretty sure it's the latter, based on:

Quote from: Osiris Kickstarter page
Osiris mounts a sensitive transducer on the pipe. When you run your water, sound conducts through your entire plumbing system. Osiris listens to the sound and knows when your water is on. Osiris graphs how many minutes you run your water each hour. This helps you understand when and how long you use water.

This technique worked so well that we filed a patent, and are now patent-pending on the use of sound & vibration to detect water flow in pipes.

Offline evb149

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Re: Osiris Smart Water Monitor
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2017, 07:29:16 am »
Sounds like a good thing to publically shame and boycott, at the very least because of what seems like patent abuse (from the comment below but never having read the patent application, hopefully it isn't as ridiculous as the other messages suggest).

There are all kinds of water flow meters out there, and ultrasonic detection is just one common kind that is widely implemented and using the sonic characteristics of water flowing in pipes is nothing new and nothing patent worthy.  And in fact if they're not even doing something like doppler / propagation time based sonic flow detection but just listening to the sound that's even more trivial and ridiculous.

I won't make you ask me what commonly wakes me up a few times a night -- the sound of water flowing in the pipes from the use of the basins and toilets on the floor above me.  NOT the sound of the fixtures themselves, but the sound of the water flowing in the pipes.  If I cared to I could certainly log how many times an hour that was done with excellent precision.  I'm pretty sure plumbing has been noisy when the water was flowing since the ancient Roman aquaducts and whatever plumbing may have existed in ancient China, Babylon, Greece, and Egypt to name a few possibilities.

Yes, water has mass, flow has kinetic energy, irregular flow is highly noisy, regular flow is somewhat noisy, fast flow is noisier has more kinetic energy etc. than slow flow in some generality (ignoring flow type transitions etc. etc.).  Nothing new, very obvious and obviously measurable if you cared to do so.

You can even make logic circuits and analog functional computers just using water, you could make it integrate its own flow (besides in the most obvious way):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluidics

I don't have a problem with them slapping an Arduino to a pipe and making an IoT water use counter.  A bit lame compared to making a proper flow measurement but useful for some applications, but patent, really???

Maybe #2. of their patent will be to detect water presence by the wetness of the floor....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultrasonic_flow_meter
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_measurement

Ah let's see here's a page from 2007, 2012 talking about long well known proportionality relationships between water flow rate, noise frequency spectrum, pipe size, water temperature, noise level, and influences like fittings / bends / vibration:
http://www.johnhearfield.com/Water/Water_in_pipes.htm
http://www.johnhearfield.com/Water/Water_in_pipes2.htm

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/910764625/osiris-the-65-smart-water-monitor

It's a device that you strap onto a water pipe, and it measures how much water you use, using a microphone of some kind. The app lets you set water consumption goals and track your usage. If the water is running when it shouldn't, it'll alert you to check for leaks. It'll also alert you if the temperature is falling and the pipes might freeze soon.

Looks alright to me. The product is both physically and technologically possible. Their team has an analog designer, a digital designer, and only one manager. They say they've been developing "smart devices" for 14 years. (Anybody used their microvoltmeter or nanoammeter?) They seem to have good manufacturing partners. Their oscilloscope-displaying-a-sine-wave photo looks more like a real lab than most.

Two things stood out to me, though:
  • How does it convert sounds into water flow rate, even though different pipes, faucets, etc. surely sound different? It doesn't! It seems they're only counting minutes the water is running, not integrating rate of flow over time to determine how much water is actually used. A short shower likely uses more water than leaving the water running while brushing your teeth, but this device might count them as equal or the latter as a greater use of water depending on how long you take.
  • They say they have a patent pending on this technology. I thought they might mean they're patenting an algorithm to convert sounds into water flow rate, which sounds like a reasonable thing to patent. But if they're only timing water usage, not measuring flow rate, they must not have (or want to use) such an algorithm. So are they patenting on/off detection of water flow in a pipe by sound? That should fail the obviosity test. They do say, though, that you can mount the device on any pipe in the house and it will work just as well, because the sound conducts through the entire plumbing system, so maybe they have an algorithm to help with that?
 

Offline dunkemhigh

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Re: Osiris Smart Water Monitor
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2017, 04:29:53 pm »
Quote
at the very least because of what seems like patent abuse (from the comment below but never having read the patent application

I would suggest that reading (and understanding - the two may be distinct!) the patent would be sensible before having a good rant about it.

I developed some kit for which I obtained a patent. Objectively, the patent was rubbish for the technical purposes of the device, but it was useful for marketing. Being able to say "patent pending" and then "patented" is worth quite a lot. Someone like you may have come along and figured it couldn't be a proper patent and gone off on a rant on the basis that a patent existed at all, but had they read what it really was they would have had a red face afterwards since they would have been creating and then shooting down their own straw man.
 

Offline PointyOintment

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Re: Osiris Smart Water Monitor
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2017, 12:07:06 pm »
I tried and failed to find their patent application. I used Google Patents and the search queries [ "az" (pipe|tube) flow ] and [ (olivier|dopson) (pipe|tube) flow ], with filing date on or after Jan 1, 2010. It might have been filed before 2010, or it might not have been published yet.

I read the comments on the KS page just now. They say Osiris has ten gain levels, which it automatically chooses from to adapt to different pipes, and its detection threshold is quite low (dripping faucet, in their tests). They also say it can report usage in metric or American units. These suggest that they are maybe doing some calculation of flow rate.

Offline Khendrask

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Re: Osiris Smart Water Monitor
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2017, 12:19:04 pm »
Ultrasonic and Magnetic flowmeters for water are real things, but not inexpensive, and they do require knowledge of the actual pipe material, thickness, sensor separation, fluid contamination...

I'm sure that more thorough actual patents exist.

Typical technology for US flowmeters:
http://www.flowmeters.com/ultrasonic-technology

Strap-on sensor US meters also are common, without requiring penetration of the sensing pipe.
 

Offline dunkemhigh

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Re: Osiris Smart Water Monitor
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2017, 06:49:46 pm »
Quote
I tried and failed to find their patent application.

Perhaps they might tell us if asked - it's hardly a secret (or shouldn't be). I think it's a case of putting their money where their mouth is, and if they won't give an application ref then they're basically kneed themselves in the goolies and more or less said it's a con.
 

Offline newbadboy

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Re: Osiris Smart Water Monitor
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2017, 06:57:37 am »
I have planned building a similar gadget but then stumbled upon this campaign so i have actually ordered one.

Hopefully it will work. The one bad thing with these kind of gadgets is that it's hard to filter out 100% a leakage from taking a shower or so. You will get warnings to the phone that are not valid leakages time to time.
 


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