Waterborne illness is a major problem in many countries around the world. Even now, over 750 million people lack access to clean water. But despite the prevalence of this problem, there has yet to be developed a simple, effective way to detect and measure water pollution, which leaves individual consumers to guess and hope: Is my water clean enough to drink? What will happen if I give it to my children? As a Carnegie Mellon Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D. Graduate, Eric Li heard this question a lot. Friends and family were constantly asking him to recommend water filter treatments for their home, or when they should replace their filters.

“I have seen people around me who have contracted cancer from drinking the polluted water,” he says. “And as water pollution problems began to occur more frequently, I started to feel a sense of mission. I wanted to provide a potential solution.”

For Li, this solution came in the form of Ecomo. Ecomo is a microfluidics mini spectrometry sensor designed to assess water quality in real-time. Not only can it measure the total dissolved solids in the water—including minerals, salts, and other impurities—it can also detect pesticides, pharmaceuticals, petroleum products, silt, rust, cloudiness, water temperature, and more.

And as water pollution problems began to occur more frequently, I started to feel a sense of mission. I wanted to provide a potential solution.

Eric Li, Founder & CEO, Ecomo

In order to bring this technology to a consumer-friendly level, Li designed the Ecomo Smart Bottle—a portable water bottle with Li’s patented sensor system inside. The bottle can be filled anywhere, whether it’s a public water fountain or a mountain stream. To test the water quality, the user simply has to shake the bottle, and a digital readout at the bottom will tell you whether the water is “bad,” “moderate,” or “great.” Then just twist the base to manually swirl the internal filter, making the water perfectly safe to drink.

“My experiences in machine learning and programming classes at CMU opened my eyes to a much bigger world,” says Li. “CMU gave me a vision—that we can make the environment better, cut costs, and provide better protection for more people by using the latest, innovative technologies.”

Li launched the product on Kickstarter in 2016, and before long it had already received over 900% of its funding goal. Ecomo is currently taking pre-orders, and will soon be available to consumers.

“Our mission at Ecomo is to digitize our healthy lives,” Li says. “Clean water is the first step. We are partnering with water filter and purifier manufactures around the world to transform traditional water filters into smart devices powered by Ecomo sensing technology. This is just the start for Ecomo.”