Pulling Water out of Thin Air: WaterSeer Price, Effectiveness, and Downfall
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Water insecurity is a global concern, inspiring engineers, designers, and environmental allies to get creative. In 2016, buzz got around about a product that could make water out of thin air, producing a seemingly endless water supply to whomever had the machine. It is called the WaterSeer. Initially, the WaterSeer price, availability, efficacy, and production timeline were unknown.
It is 2023 now — does the world have more water independence than it used to because of innovative technology?
The Origins of the WaterSeer
The WaterSeer project arose for the first time on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding platform. It is a revolutionary type of water pump that makes water out of air cleaner than tap water. An above-ground turbine distributes air to the lower portion of the device. The air connects to channels two meters below ground. When it hits these areas, the air cools to condensate into clean water. It pools in a reservoir that attaches to a hose and pumps for public ease of use.
The description promised backers an eco-friendly, low-maintenance method of creating their water, increasing water security and access worldwide.
The project promised some proceeds toward the company’s WaterSeer for the World Foundation to install WaterSeer machines in areas with less water independence. Because the tech does not require a lot of power, solar panels could do the trick — providing a green and zero-emissions option for water treatment and production.
The minds behind WaterSeer were Don Zacherl and Nancy Curtis of VICI Labs. They were inspired to catalyze change after researching women’s difficulties in collecting water for families in underprivileged communities. Usually, this water is contaminated, putting entire regions at risk for waterborne illness.
WaterSeer Price, Effectiveness, and Impact
In 2016, the makers advertised the product for $134 to yield 37 liters of water daily. It was cheap enough to install on private land and even cheaper when considering putting it throughout cities. As the prototype was going through revisions in 2017 and 2018, they sent updates to Indiegogo backers, saying they would send out the first round of WaterSeers by the end of 2018. All products were to be made in the U.S.
Unfortunately, they had some mishaps, and the positive publicity decreased immensely after a few media personalities began decrying the impossible technology behind WaterSeer, eventually debunking it altogether. It is solar roadways all over again — a fantastic idea to combat the climate crisis, but with little scientific backing to support its widespread implementation.
YouTube personality Thunderf00t and other media outlets like Popular Science began publicizing information contradictory to what the WaterSeer product was claiming. The WaterSeer price was not $134, but it was on sale for $1,389 under the name WaterSeer Sonoma 19.
Popular Science Magazine
The journal published an article about the promising benefits of the technology after its rise to internet popularity in 2016. Many complained, including content creators like EEVBlog, that Popular Science was posting “fake news” without fact-checking the validity of the product.
The magazine released an article in 2017 with the subheading “A clarification about our WaterSeer article,” exploring the nuances of the failed project.
The first note they pointed out was the WaterSeer’s inability to produce around 10 or more gallons per day. It can’t work in arid regions where air has a lower dew point. Popular Science got a thermodynamicist’s comment on the machine’s specs with this knowledge, and they were also skeptical. They mentioned that the device also couldn’t work 24 hours a day as the makers posed because of temperature changes between night and day.
Additionally, the amount of air that would have to travel through the machine is astronomical, linking to Thunderf00t’s detailed video entitled “Waterseer -BUSTED!”
Thunderf00t’s Video Series
The content creator made several videos in 2016 and 2019 about the flawed science of this product, exploring more about what Popular Science pointed out in their article.
Internet sleuths collaborated to discover that the final product released by WaterSeer was a duplicate dehumidifier that cost around $200 at Walmart. The dehumidifier was made in China, not the States. The WaterSeer Sonoma only had a case around it to make it look like another product. Still, people opened it up to see what was inside. They discovered eerie similarities between this cheaper dehumidifier.
What concerned people more was the language used in the operations manual in 2018. It included this excerpt:
The maker wanted customers to avoid discovering the reality of what they purchased by advising them not to tamper with the machine at all costs. Otherwise, they would void their warranty.
Questioning Environmental Miracles
As of 2023, all Indiegogo links, WaterSeer operational manuals, and shop pages have been deleted or are unusable. Most of the evidence that remains online about this product is only available because of video content and forums. Some links redirect to WaterSeer’s current website, where they sell water filters and peripherals. It also isn’t easy to find active resources for VICI Labs.
The failed WaterSeer Sonoma project reminds environmentalists and consumers to question anything they invest in or see that promises climate miracles. Though it would be ideal if all of these products became a reality, the takeaway is to question manufacturers and remind them to focus on practicality and transparency. There are rarely simple solutions to complex problems, and this is not the first water-from-air device on the market.
Environmentalists remain optimistic about fixing water scarcity, but presently, it is not with products like the WaterSeer.
Will WaterSeer Solve the Water Crisis?
The trajectory of this dream product was short-lived and, unfortunately, riddled with problems. After media figures and major magazines exposed the idea’s shortcomings, it quickly fell off the company’s radar. Nobody can purchase this product, no matter where you look. The idea was great in theory, but somewhere, the execution fell short.
Hopefully, the price of WaterSeer’s failure translates into a more productive and practical idea in the future to make water independence a reality in a world where drought, pollution, and other natural disasters cause sources to be scarce and contaminated.
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About the author
Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.