The smartest thing we’ve seen at CES 2018 so far is a smart water assistant

The Phyn Plus smart water sensor offers a glimpse at how different industries are targeting the connected consumer.

If you’ve been reading anything about CES 2018, then you know the show was crowded with assistant enabled gadgetry. Not all of it is gimmicks though.

Phyn Plus is a connected smart water assistant. It does what its description suggests: it monitors and measures tiny fluctuations in your water pressure to find out what’s going on in your pipes. Any time it detects even the slightest leak, Phyn will alert you through its companion app that a visit from the plumber is imminent if you don’t do something soon.

A sincerely useful smart thing

A button on the Phyn lets you instantly shut off the water if the app is offline.

I’ve been thankful enough that I haven’t had a leaky pipe at my house, but I’ve been the victim of other people’s leaks. And I can tell you, that even a neighbor’s burst pipe affects the rest of us on the block who have to trudge through the puddle.

Your water usage patterns are what helps Phyn know when something is out of the ordinary

The idea behind the $850 Phyn Plus is that the investment will help prevent this sort of stress in your life. Phyn measures micro changes in water pressure about 240 times per second. It can detect pinhole leaks and even frozen pipes. Any time you turn on the water, Phyn will take note of how much water you’re using and at what times of day you’re most likely to hop into the shower. Your water usage patterns are what helps Phyn know when something is out of the ordinary, or if you’re merely setting up for an incredibly luxurious bath.

And as mentioned, there’s a companion app that alerts you if there’s a leak or a pipe has burst at home. If it detects the latter, it will slowly and securely shut off the water flow so that you don’t have to worry about things overflowing when you’re not at home to deal with them.

The company has also partnered with Uponor Pro Squad, a nationwide network of plumbing specialists educated on the Phyn Plus and its installation process. The caveat, however, is that only an Uponor water specialist can install the Phyn, which will net an additional fee on top of the price of the device. I asked the company if my contractor father, who’s been building houses since the early 90s, could install this thing himself. It’s not possible to do so without the aid of a specialist, so this isn’t a do-it-yourself solution.

Stop wasting water

The Phyn Plus’s starting price point is a bit steep for those looking for a simple water monitoring solution, especially when you factor in the cost of installation. But then I remembered that I recently came out of a five-year drought in my home state of California.

Our water prices were high, regardless of the fact that I was actively attempting to take shorter showers, use less water to brush my teeth, and avoid flushing the toilet more than it was necessary. Water is a scarce resource on our planet, and though this smart water assistant won’t significantly impact how much water we save,  it can help more people become aware of their wasteful ways.

The current market for water detectors is littered with the lower-cost alternatives like the First Alert WA100 Water Alarm, and the D-Link DCH-S160 water sensor, but neither of those products can help stop a burst pipe. Also, it’s worth noting that Phyn is a part of Belkin’s underarm, so it has the backing of a company that’s already very well established in the land of peripherals and things-that-plug-into-other-things. This technology could become much more affordable over time, especially once it becomes commoditized.

If you’re interested in installing the Phyn Plus in your home, it’ll be available later this spring in 30 cities.