Professor Eric Larson’s Invention Among iPhone Life Magazine’s ‘Best of CES 2015’


Eric Larson WeMo
Eric Larson holding WeMo
LAS VEGAS, NV – The annual International Consumer Electronics Show brings together tech companies from all over the world to debut their most innovative new products. Computer Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Eric Larson’s dissertation project, commercialized as WeMo® Water by Belkin International, Inc., was among several products selected by iPhone Life Magazine as one of the most forward-thinking, creative, and useful iOS-related products coming to market this year at CES 2015.

“Smart home appliances were one of the hottest trends at CES this year, but many systems still involve a setup that’s too complicated or expensive for the average consumer. That’s why we were so excited about Belkin’s forthcoming water sensor, which will monitor your entire home’s water usage from a single sensor installed under your kitchen sink,” said iPhone Life’s Donna Cleveland.

The device is simple. It utilizes a single sensor that helps monitor water usage inside and outside of residences via an app on a smartphone. Developed by Dr. Larson to promote sustainable water conservation, the device and app can identify and locate leaks, as well as measure water consumption. With this data, building managers and homeowners can calculate how much it costs to take an extended shower or even identify leaks and other potential problems before they become serious. Belkin liked Dr. Larson’s idea for HydroSense—as Dr. Larson originally named it—and commercialized the project in 2012, naming the product WeMo Water. “The Lyle School of Engineering is proud of Professor Larson and this achievement,” said Dean Marc P. Christensen “We seek to have an impact on the world and Dr. Larson’s achievements at this early point in his career indicate he has a bright future in not only changing the world, but educating students who will do so as well.”

Although not available to general consumers yet, the WeMo Water device is attached to the cold water line of a sink and powered by an electrical outlet. Once installed and calibrated, WeMo Water identifies every fixture in the home–from shower, to toilet, to outdoor irrigation. When water is not being used, the pressure is constant. But when water is used, pressure waves―typically known as “water hammers”—are generated. The device senses the pressure waves, which are different depending on which water fixture in the home is activated, and identifies the fixtures based on observation. Advanced, active learning algorithms then analyze the pressure changes and log when―and for how long—each fixture is used, and then calculate how much water each consumes.

Using WeMo Water’s detailed data, via a smartphone, consumers can better understand how to use water more efficiently. “Eric’s contributions to Lyle’s Computer Science and Engineering Department are cross-disciplinary,” said CSE Chair Suku Nair. “Promoting water conservation with an app is indeed ‘forward-thinking.’ Eric has an incredible passion for solutions that benefit consumers and solve universal problems. We can’t wait to see what his next app will address.”

About Eric Larson

Eric C. Larson is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering at SMU and a member of the SMU Center for Global Health Impact. Larson’s main research interests lie at the intersection of data science and mobile computing. He has developed a number of mobile health technologies, including medical applications that use mobile phones to track baselines for patients with chronic cough, asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, and newborn jaundice. His work in mobile health, the first of its kind to seek FDA approval, is creating a new paradigm for medical sensing outside of the clinic.

Larson received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Oklahoma State University. He earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington. To learn more about Larson's research, contact him at eclarson@lyle.smu.edu.