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App Chat: 'Shower with Friends' wants to help curb your water use

More than 58 percent of the state is under the most severe category that the drought monitor issues.
More than 58 percent of the state is under the most severe category that the drought monitor issues.
U.S. Drought Monitor

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Hoping for a strong El Niño this winter to moisten California up a bit? Don't get your hopes up - as weather experts are saying that even if it does come along, El Niño will probably be pretty weak.

Which could mean yet another dry winter... which means more drought... which means more water conservation... which some people are hoping that they can help with technology.

One of those groups are some guys who just won Tech Crunch Disrupt with the hack they're calling Shower with Friends. It's an app out of Intel's Mashery up in San Francisco, and the idea is that it helps you save water by monitoring your usage in the shower and telling you how much you're using and if it's too much, via text.

They want to gamify the experience as well, and that's why it's called Shower with Friends. They want you to be able to compete with your friends to see who can save the most water. They think that by doing that, it'll make people more likely to commit to the process.

The idea came about after Neil Mansilla - a developer at Mashery - and his colleagues were paid a visit by Intel's CEO Brian Krzanich.

"He noticed that we had a tablet computer sitting on top of our kegerator, which is basically a keg. And he asked what it was and so we showed him. It was a hack that we built where every time you dispensed beer from our keg, it keeps track of how many ounces were dispensed. So he said, "Show me how it works.""

Nevermind the fact that they have a keg at their office - Kraznich asked if they could build something similar for his house, that wasn't keg-centric. So, they figured out how to do it for his shower.

They later submitted the idea to Tech Crunch Disrupt and subsequently won $5,000 for the idea.

But just how big of a deal is showering in a family's water usage in terms of statewide water usage?

Households account for about 14 percent of water use in the state of California, according to KCET. And according to the EPA, showering accounts for about 17 percent of indoor water use, which on average equals about 40 gallons a day for a family, or about 1.2 trillion gallons of water are used in the U.S. per year, just showering.  Of course, these numbers depend on the flow of the shower head, how many people are in the household and how often they shower.

In terms of state wide usage, things like agriculture use a lot more water, but Mansilla's hope is that their contraption can save you money and water by slowly helping you cut back on water use.

He said that he doesn't know if or when the product will come to market, but that he expects that they'll release an open source version soon.

But if you're interested in apps available now that'll help you monitor your water usage, check out Drip Detective and the Los Angeles DWP's app (which has terrible reviews).

You could also always just try #DroughtShaming your neighbors. That might work too.