When I was first asked to represent Jetson Green at the Delta 2012 Maker/DIYer Blogger Event, I knew very little about the concept of makers and even less about our host, Delta Faucet Company. A quick Google search for makers revealed a subculture of out-of-the-box thinkers who share their invention, creativity, and resourcefulness at Maker Faires around the world. Sounds pretty cool, I thought. But what does this “maker movement” have to do with an almost 60-year old plumbing company from Indiana? Along with seven other bloggers, I was about to find out during a two-day, expenses-paid visit with Delta’s makers at their Indianapolis headquarters.

The original Delta maker was company founder Alex Manoogian, who introduced the first single handle lavoratory faucet to the world back in 1954. His company has been innovating ever since, with some of the most exciting technological breakthroughs in the plumbing industry emerging from Delta’s in-house engineers and product developers.

We spent an afternoon with these passionate and industrious fellows, all the textbook definition of a maker if there ever was one! We played with some of their most popular water-saving inventions, feeling the voluminous spray of a low-flow showerhead featuring H2O Kinetics and marveling at those “magic” Touch 2O faucets, which stop and start the water flow with a simple tap anywhere on the spout — and from whichever body part is most readily accessible. No need to yuck up your faucet handle with raw chicken hands when your elbow is available!

They even now have completely hands-free activation (known as Touch 20xt) on some faucet lines, which can sense your presence with remarkable accuracy (no faucet dance!), turning on and off immediately after you remove your hands to conserve water. As Senior Product Development Manager Paul Patton put it:

“We are very serious about water conservation — but not at the expense of the user’s experience of our products. Our mission is to keep finding and filling the gaps between technology and consumer needs, which makes Delta an exciting place to work right now!

One of the best ways they pinpoint unmet needs is by videotaping and then studying people using their sinks, faucets and showers at home (with their permission, of course!).  When they see common “workarounds” like Big Gulp cups kept in the shower stall for extra rinse power or to wash out the tub, then they know there is an opportunity to fulfill a need. The In2ition showerhead with a built-in handheld is a perfect solution for just those issues! Observing so much wasted time waiting for large pots inspired Multi-Flow and lots of dangling pull-down spray wands led to the invention of the MagnaTite feature.

All this is just the tip of the iceberg of what these innovators have in the works right now! In my next installment, we’ll visit Delta’s Director of Industrial Design Judd Lord and his team in their on-site design studio — where all kinds of cool “making” goes on!

Disclosure: Delta Faucets invited Jetson Green to Indianapolis and covered expenses during the conference.  All opinions are our own.  Photo credits: Lisa Vail.