In the age of digital glory, every aspect of life is tracked. Thanks to the gadgets borne of the silicon revolution, a person can record every step they take, every calorie they consume, every inch they travel and every heartbeat — but that’s not nearly all. Two Drexel University students, Mohamed Zerban and Connor White, are confident that they can use silicon technology to save the world, one drop of water at a time.
In the fall of 2014, Zerban and White founded Tern, a company that helps households monitor their water usage.
“The idea [surrounding the company] was to improve the efficiency of water management inside your home, through the installation of modular smart products,” Zerban wrote in an email to The Triangle.
The mission statement on company’s website, elaborates on this sentiment. “Every human being has the right to clean and renewable water. To achieve this belief, Tern strives to create sustainable and modular products, both affordable and accessible, to all users,” the website boasts.
From this overarching goal, the two founders came up with the company’s flagship product: the Smart Faucet. This product, which is in the later stages of development, will not only purify tap water, but also store data regarding water output. The hardware is described by Zerban as a “simple, elegant attachment to the user’s kitchen faucet.” The water usage data from each faucet is transferred wirelessly to an app on the owner’s smartphone. When the filter in the faucet nears expiration, the app sends a notification to Tern headquarters to ship a new filter to the user’s home.
“The Smart Faucet … will give the user real time data of consumption of their water, allowing them to be more aware of their water usage,” Zerban said.
Zerban and White surmise that if individuals are more conscious of the amount of water they use, they will be more cautious about avoiding unnecessary usage. They recently presented this idea, along with a 3-D printed prototype, at Drexel’s Startup Day Nov. 11. The Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship hosted Startup Day as an opportunity for Drexel student entrepreneurs to pitch their products and compete for funding and recognition. This is one of several competitions that the institute hosts annually to promote entrepreneurship and encourage innovation among students. Tern ultimately earned the chance to work with some individuals from Baiada, as a result of their performance in the competition. They’ve also collaborated with Drexel’s Close School of Entrepreneurship.
“The Baiada [Institute] is great as it’s close to everything and allows us to get a lot more work done. Also, working with the faculty members of the Close School has been very helpful,” Zerban wrote.
Tern is currently raising a seed round of funding to support the production of the Smart Faucet and to potentially facilitate the design of new products as well. The Smart Faucet is projected to be available for pre-order as early as spring of 2016.