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Do you trust a crowdfunded water bottle to tell you the water you’re drinking is safe?

Do you trust a crowdfunded water bottle to tell you the water you’re drinking is safe?

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Lots of recent crowdfunded gadgets make scientific claims, like the wearables that claim to be able to pinpoint when and why you’re stressed, or the pen that claims to tell you your vitamin levels by just putting it against your skin. Now, there’s a water bottle called the Ecomo that can tell you what contaminants are in your water with just a shake. How does it work? Well, it has filters. Lots of filtering water bottles exist but not all of them give you accurate readings of your water. The Ecomo relies on three filters: a nanofiber membrane, which is what you’ll typically find in water bottles for campers. The membrane gets rid of bacteria by essentially pushing the water through pores that are too small for the bad stuff to fit through.

The Ecomo also comes with an activate carbon filter to remove "chlorine, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and petroleum," as well as an ion exchange fiber to remove heavy metals. Again, this is nothing new, although I can’t verify how well the filters work in the Ecomo. The filtering aspect of this water bottle isn’t hard to believe, but its ability to notify you of what it found in your water seems unreal.

A band on the bottom of the Ecomo will let you know whether your water is "bad," "moderate," or "good." Apparently it relies on a custom "sensing unit" to take readings of the water and make a claim about its safety. The Ecomo’s companion iOS / Android app will also give you more precise readings, and the water bottle’s creators say the filtration unit has been "rigorously tested." I haven’t seen technology like this before. Typically when you want to thoroughly test water, you have to send it out to a lab. You can also use test strips at home but those are often more inaccurate.

Ecomo’s creators took its water bottle to a lab to explain how it works. The video explains nothing. Instead, it shows the massive equipment a water testing facility requires to produce reports. That’s it. Ecomo doesn’t elaborate on its technology, nor does it say how long its filters last. You can see the video here. (You have to right click to view the controls.)

Ecomo is a fear-mongering gadget. In a video on the bottle’s Kickstarter page, a person runs tap water through the Ecomo. It reads as "bad." Water that was already put through a filter come out as "moderate." I can’t imagine how many sources of water could come up "bad" on Ecomo’s sensing unit.

Ultimately, I haven’t tested Ecomo. I’m just highly skeptical of scientific claims that come with zero evidence. Ecomo even admits that it hasn’t yet conducted third-party testing on its product. Until I see results, I don’t believe this water bottle will ever ship, or at the very least, give you accurate insight into what you’re drinking. That being said, the Ecomo starts at $139.