Water is vital to our existence but it can prove deadly if it becomes contaminated. Some people therefore rely on mineral water sold in bottles. Americans have become big consumers of bottled water, buying close to 148 litres per head of the population in 2016. The problem there is of course that plastic nowadays represents a real threat to the health of the planet. A proportion of the eight million tons of the stuff thrown away every year finds its way into the oceans, endangering marine ecosystems and, by extension, the entire environment. But how can we be sure that water from fountains, from the kitchen tap or from natural sources is really potable? An Israeli startup has come up with a solution that works without actually coming into contact with the liquid you want to assess. Showcased at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the device developed by Lishtot uses electric field analysis to detect contaminants and so determine the quality of a water sample. The sensors in the device can spot any anomaly in the makeup of the water sample – heavy metals, pesticides, toxins or any other substance that simply ought not to be present in drinking water. The device, called TestDrop, is able to transmit the relevant data to the linked smartphone app so as to obtain a fast answer on whether the water is OK to drink. This initiative appears to complement the approach taken by Spanish startup Closca, whose app maps the various stations where you can re-fill your Closca ‘smart’ water bottle. San Francisco residents might well be among those most interested in these innovations, given that the city is one of the first to have banned the sale of bottled or packaged water in containers of up to one litre capacity on all city-owned land.
By Sophia Qadiri