Zip Water has developed a contactless version of its signature HydroTap, using in-house proprietary sensor technology to dispense boiling, chilled and sparkling water from one system touch-free.

The HydroTap Touch-Free Wave has been designed to meet shifting global customer demand brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To get the product to market as quickly as possible, Zip Water innovation manager, Kevin Moult said the company drew on industry leading techniques to deliver a first-of-its kind solution and deliver a prototype in record time.

From initial concept to the first installation set for December, the product will get to market within six months – a process that would normally take up to a year.

“By using advanced manufacturing techniques, including 3D printing and rapid prototyping, we were able to achieve our first minimum viable product and prototype in half the usual time,” he said.

“The biggest challenge we faced was fitting four infrared sensors into the tap head, which only has a diameter of 4.5cm, so that they didn’t intersect and confuse commands. If you think about other contactless technology, like sensor-driven handwashing or toilet flushing systems, they only need to fit one or two sensors into a larger space, all facing in the same direction.

“We were also able to develop an innovative solution to deliver a contactless version of the boiling water safety lock found in all classic HydroTaps. We created the twin sensor activation command so that boiling water is only dispensed once two of the four sensors are engaged, which can be done only through a very intentional motion.”

Zip Water marketing and strategy director, Mike Abbott said the company started receiving enquires from existing domestic customers back in April asking whether they offered a contactless version of the HydroTap.

“When we received requests from our two key domestic specifiers in New South Wales and Queensland, who said many Australian workplaces were approaching them for contactless solutions, we knew we had to get something to market quickly.

“In response we conceived, designed and developed the HydroTap Touch-Free Wave. Since April, we have had over 40 enquiries for the product from existing domestic commercial customers before it’s even hit the market.

“We’ve also received enquiries from international customers for contactless HydroTaps for their offices located across the United States, China, Singapore, Germany and Italy. We’re generating such significant early interest because workplaces worldwide need to show they can be COVID-safe and there’s nothing else like it on the market.”

Zip Water is manufacturing the HydroTap Touch-Free Wave out of its Condell Park factory in Western Sydney. It will be available in Australia and the United Kingdom in December, New Zealand from early 2021 and will be rolled out to other international markets throughout 2021.