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Smart Home

Save money and smarten up your shower with the Amphiro B1

Amphiro's B1 device tracks the cost of those hot showers in real time to help you save money.

The Amphiro B1 keeps on eye on the shower to save water and money. Amphiro

Similarly to what Nest Labs has done to the thermostat industry, Swiss startup Amphiro plans to disrupt how you run your bath and shower water. The company's latest smart home gadget, the $99 B1, will log the amount of H2O you send down the drain along with how much energy it takes to comfortably warm your day-to-day bodily wash water.

Additionally, Amphiro claims the B1 will funnel water consumption stats in real time to tablets, smartphones and PCs via the product's wireless Bluetooth connection. Your mobile device will then push this data to the cloud and help you keep tabs on the true cost and environmental impact of your personal hygiene routine.

Design and features

Based on looks alone, the Amphiro B1 likely won't strike you as a radical piece of smart-home tech. According to its creators, however, this unassuming little gizmo has what it takes to shave plenty of money off your yearly energy bill.

About the size of a big bar of soap, the 6.3-ounce (180-gram) B1 is oval with rounded edges along with a monochrome LCD screen. Designed to fit in between the shower head and main bath water hose, the B1 has standard half-inch plumbing connections on the top and bottom edges. This, according to the people at Amphiro, makes the B1 compatible with the majority of handheld shower heads found in homes today.

Displayed prominently on the gadget's screen are digits representing current water temperature (Fahrenheit or Celsius) plus the total volume of water used since the shower tap was opened (gallons or liters). The B1 also whimsically portrays the ecological impact of each shower session via a cute, though slightly disturbing, animated pictograph of a polar bear standing on a shelf of ice. The longer the shower, and the hotter the water, the more this virtual ice shelf will disappear.

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The B1 uses a tiny water turbine to power itself. Amphiro

Another aspect of its eco-friendly nature is that the Amphiro B1 doesn't require an external power source, or even batteries, to function. Instead the device is self-powered via an embedded microturbine that harnesses shower water flow to generate the electricity it runs on.

Amphiro also plans to open the B1's API so that software and product developers can conceivably roll the gadget's collected data into other smart-home platforms.

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Amphiro says the B1's API will be open for all to use. Amphiro

So how much cash can you actually expect the B1 to save you? If you accept what Amphiro claims, quite a bit. According to the company, users of the B1 could save an average of $140 a year, while true water hawks might even squeeze as much as $280 out for the yearly household budget.

Outlook

Sadly, if all these promised capabilities have piqued your interest in the Amphiro B1, you're in for a bit of a wait. While the company's Kickstarter campaign to bring the Amphiro B1 to fruition is fully funded, the product isn't scheduled to hit stores until May 2015.

I'm sure there are those out there who doubt the B1's chances for success -- or those of any crowdfunded hardware for that matter. Amphiro does have a track record, however, since it currently sells the precursor to the B1 -- called the A1 -- for $89. Keep in mind that this earlier model lacks the B1's planned wireless Bluetooth communication capabilities. Amphiro plans to sell the B1 in the US ($99), UK (£65), Australia (AU$118) and Europe (€79).

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