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An IoT solution to drinking water safety 

Flint Michigan has been suffering from lead in water since a switch in water resources in 2014. Lead in water is not the only problem for flint; it is a national problem, and even a problem faced by the rest of the world.

We designed Pluto, a smart water cleaning system that helps people understand what they drink and get involved in actions against water pollution. 

Project Time:  3 weeks

Team:  Angela Xie, Supawat Vitoorapakorn

Creating a water quality map with Pluto



In 2014, Flint, Michigan switched its water resources from Lake Huron to the Detroit River for a less costly source of the Flint River.

Due to insufficient water treatment, lead leached from water pipes into the drinking water, exposing over 100,000 residents to elevated lead levels. 

Lead in pipes is the main source of lead contamination in drinking water. It is a problem that may take years to solve since most of the US homes use lead water pipes.

It is not a problem only for Flint, Michigan; it is a problem for every one of us.

A need for urgent action

  • By sharing information with all states about the approaches that some states and water systems are using to successfully identify and publicize information about lead service lines, including responses to potential challenges

  • EPA could encourage states to be more transparent to the public and support the agency's objectives for safe drinking water


For Individual Users

"Do you really know what you are drinking?"


For the city

“For 30 years, Pittsburgh has been suffering from an unstable lead level in the water.”


Provide users with a way to understand what you’re drinking, and take meaningful actions against poor drinking water quality.




Speed dating and feedback

We speed dated the storyboards with our classmates. Some people brought up that a water bottle might not be the best media for the smart filter. It's mobile but at the same time cannot ensure that the measurement is taken at the location where people get water. In addition, some people were worried that the bottles would be not affordable with the addition of the filters and sensors. 

To determine the best place to install the smart filter, we did a competitive analysis of the water bottle, the faucet, and the water jug. Finally, we decided to go with the faucet as the MVP.

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Final Solution

The smart filter

The physical object is composed of two parts:

1. PPM and Lead Sensor: Measures water quality pre and post-filtering. Collect important data of the water quality. 

2. Brita Filter: Protects user from harmful metals

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Main Interaction

The smart filter embedded in the faucet measures the water quality at the same time of cleaning the water. If the water quality is poor, the light turns red and the system pushes a notification to the users' mobile app. The user can read more details about the pre and post-filtered water quality in Pluto app. 

Interaction Model

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Increase Transparency

Pluto helps you understand your drinking water.

It tells you everything that you want to know about the water before and after being filtered. It makes you feel confident about the water that you drink and keeps you informed of potential local water issues. 

Increase Transparency

Pluto helps you understand your city.

It tells you about the water quality in different neighborhoods of your city using the data collected from the other Pluto users. It let you spot any problems or unfairness, and report to the local departments.  

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Solve problems together

Pluto helps initiate conversation among citizens.

It helps residents spot areas with dangerous drinking water and uses the internet as an amplifier. It provides credible data and empowers citizens in reducing inequity in drinking water. 

Time-series Data

As the adoption of the product spread like viruses, the system can further gather time-series data, which shows trend of quality change in the region

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Seeing the improvement or the deterioration of the water problem, which is calculated from data themselves collected, citizens are more willing to trust the result and put in the effort to reduce inequity.


Protect yourself, protect your city

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