Core77 Design Awards
- Other Years
Phyn Plus is a smart water device that allows homeowners and property managers to preserve water.
Installed in the main water line, Phyn plus continuously measures pressure and flow. Phyn's AI identifies individual devices by their unique "fingerprint" of pressure and flow and disintegrates the use of water. By means of the Phyn app property managers, home owners and installers can get usage information to the detail level of a phone bill, giving them the information they need to make water saving decisions.
It also helps to prevent water damage:
By knowing the "normal" water use, Phyn's AI is able to identify anomalies, such as water leaks. The physical unit has an integrated shutoff valve that will interrupt the flow of water and prevent major water damage from happening.
id="76dc32_3175">Just a few years ago, UN Water published an alarming statistic—that in less than 20 years, two out of every three people on the planet could face a shortage of clean water. That possibility is now a reality, pushing some toward measures that sound straight out of science fiction. For example, the UAE has considered towing broken slabs of Antarctica's ice shelf across an ocean to Dubai to combat drought.
But even in regions where water is most abundant, we lose so much of it to preventable leaks hidden behind walls and under sinks. In fact, here in the US, 10% of homes have leaks that waste over 90 gallons a day. And a study by Michigan State University reveals that in just five years, nearly one third of the US will lack affordable access to water if this trend continues.
These challenges are what motivated innovation at Phyn and Ritual. We believe that by developing technology that allows us to listen to and understand our water, we can provide simple tools to empower every one of us to take action to protect our homes, our communities and our planet.
We were asked to create the first product for a new company and the face of a brand.
Phyn LCC was created by Belkin specifically to leverage and give credibility to the strength of their cutting edge water-sensing technology. This technology of has been developed over more than a decade by machine learning researchers at the University of Washington and Belkin International. We were asked to create a design that would reflect the high-tech nature and sophistication of Phyn's technology.
This being their first product the challenge had particular meaning. There was no precedence, only a blank slate and the responsibility of setting a direction for years to come.
We needed to find a visual language that deeply anchored the product in Phyn's brand and mission.
At the same time we needed to create a product architecture and product that would proof effective along value chain and lifecycle from sales to installation to use and service. This is a new to the world product so there was no precedence. The product needed to be extremely easy to install and service in a variety of different scenarios stateside and internationally. It needed to adhere to plumbing codes and best practices. It needed to live inside and outside in different climate zones over a life span of 25 years. It also could not put any more strain on existing plumbing by weight or leverage on impact.
We were designing a first to the world, high-tech product for a new brand in a utilitarian space.
Phyn Plus is unique in that it can analyze and disintegrate your water use down to the appliance and time of use. Imagine your water usage to the detail of a phone bill. It provides much more detail and accuracy than other products in this category.
Perhaps most importantly it has a shutoff valve. In case of a water leak it will immediately stop the flow of water to the house preventing a possible water damage of tens of thousands of dollars.
Most other products in this category are utilitarian and do not contribute support the credibility of the value proposition or any brand identity. Phyn Plus is a ground up development with the sophistication level of a smart home product applied in the installation market. It provides easy installation, rock solid reliability, end to end usability, advanced intelligence and superior recognition value.
The primary focus of our investment in UX was the installer:
Together with Phyn and their partner, plumbing company Uponor, we designed Phyn Plus to reduce the barrier to entry by means of making the installer's lives easy.
We did so by conducting and extended contextual analysis in the home installation and plumbing space. We recruited professional installers as experts and co-developed the product architecture with them. The goal was to maximize compatibility with global installation processes and hardware and minimize installation time. Various architectures were developed, built and tested in different installation scenarios. The architectures varied in orientation, flow direction, aspect ratio and installation and provisioning process. We analyzed each one of them for count and complexity of steps to install to identify the easiest to install, most universally compatible architecture. We also designed to out-of-box experience. The result is a product that is extremely quick and easy to install.
The second focus of our investment in user experience was the home owner:
Phyn utilizes high definition ultrasonic sensors to sample the pressure in your plumbing system 240 times every second giving them an unparalleled view of the unique signatures of each fixture in your home. Most detailed interaction happens through the mobile device.
It was our challenge to communicate this sophistication level in the design of the physical product. We made the flow of water in the pipe visible to the outside. We called this the "BBQ" moment. At the push of a button a homeowner can bring the display to life and show off to his or her friends the new intelligence of the home, supporting credibility, pride of ownership and word of mouth.
Creating the face of a brand:
Together with Phyn we created a face to the brand. The iconic vertical display imitates the flow of water through the pipe. We literally translated Phyn's mission statement of "speaking the language of water" by letting people look inside the pipe.
Phyn was looking for this level of visual impact in order to position themselves at the top of the category right out the gate. It worked. Resonance at trade shows has been tremendous with competitors walking up to Phyn's CEO proclaiming that "you are the guys to beat now".
Subsequently, awareness for Phyn and the category have spiked giving the brand high visibility with consumers and strategic partners such as insurance companies.
The collaborative process of creating this product has galvanized the internal development team and the result has generated considerable pride within the Phyn team and within the parent company Belkin.
The iconic value of the design is easy to translate into follow up products creating a strong brand language for years to come.