An early-stage startup out of Tokyo unveiled what it hopes will be the harbinger of "water freedom" at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas (it's not just new bands and weed).  The Hotaru portable shower works by continually recycling the same five gallons - 10 liters - of water.

Set-up at a campsite for example, a drain in the floor recaptures the water and pumps it through a proprietary purification filter in the base so that it's clean enough to use again.  Co-founders Riki Kitagawa and Ryo Yamada say the Hotaru can recover 95 to 98 percent of the water used in the shower.  Thanks to this system, they say a family of three could shower for two weeks using the same five gallons of water.  That comes out to about 50 showers and would save about 568 liters - 150 gallons - of water over traditional showers.

The compact shower can be easily deployed in any area, but it does require a power source.  Kitagawa and Yamada say users can hook it up to a car for basic power to run it with unheated water.  It does have its own water heater that requires a generator or AC hookup.  It's no wimp, water comes out of the faucet at a vigorous 60 psi, which some reporters thought was better than the water pressure back at their motels.

All bathing takes place inside a telescopic tent that extends about six feet over the base, which tucks back down so that the entire 32 kilogram unit can be easily transported in the boot of a car.

We are talking about new technology, and that usually isn't cheap.  The Hotaru will debut in stores in California next year for US$3,000.