How often do you change your water filter? For most people, it’s guesswork. Some change it when the water starts to look or taste different and others change it based on what the manufacturer says is the ideal lifecycle for their product.

Filters trap contaminants, giving you clean water to drink. But did you know that as time goes on, an unchanged filter can start leaching contaminants back into your water? So, an old water filter can actually be more harmful than drinking straight from the tap.

William Moniz, COO at Serene Sensors, said, “People don’t know about it but once we explain it to them, then they realise the nature of the problem we’re addressing.”

As Serene Sensors CEO, Hamed Jafari, was developing technology as part of his PhD, he stumbled upon water quality testing. From there, he was able to bring on a team with backgrounds in chemistry, sensor technology and chip design to develop an effective solution.

After completing contract work, parent company, Envirosen, decided to create Serene Sensors. The new company would create a consumer product that homeowners would be able to use to test their own water. William Moniz, an MBA with experience in sustainable products, joined soon after.

On why, they chose the consumer route, Moniz says, “It’s an issue that spans the entire globe. The growing use of water filters causes even more problems. We thought this was an excellent opportunity to create a product that could solve these problems.”

Serene Sensors’ Water Shield can be considered a smart home device that can detect the safety of your drinking water but there’s nothing like it on the market. The company has created a new category of product and there’s always risk involved with that.

That’s why, in 2017, the company launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Water Shield – to get preorders and validate their product. Through the campaign they were able to get valuable insight into what consumers wanted and were able to develop something that integrated with water filtration systems.

But it’s not just your filter

In the age of social media and 24-hour news cycles, issues like the Flint, Michigan water crisis have become global tragedies. Even big cities like Toronto have had their water supplies called into question at times.

For the most part, cities do their best to ensure its residents get a healthy water supply. Sometimes, that becomes difficult to track and report. For example, cities are only responsible for delivering water up to your property line. What happens within your property isn’t managed or monitored by the city and problems can arise that you aren’t aware of.

The Water Shield is a smart water quality monitor that’s installed under your kitchen sink and can be operated through your phone. It can run tests at under $1.50 to ensure the safety of your water by detecting a range of things such as heavy metals, acidity and temperature.

“We’re trying to put all this scientific data into something that’s easy to understand,” says Moniz. “As a consumer, you’ll know right off the bat if your water is safe to drink.”

Wherever a city is sourcing its water from could have contaminants dumped into it but it’s not something municipalities or its residents would be alerted to right away.

By being able to detect harmful contaminants themselves, people can switch to alternate sources of water like bottled water or by buy the technology to filter it.

But if you don’t know, you can’t prevent it.