|57||Device to track laundry machines and availability
|Problem: Not all apartments come with in unit washing machines, so there is usually a communal washing machine that is either within the building or in another building nearby, which would require you to carry your dirty laundry with you to put it in. The problem in this is that tenants would not know if there was an available machine, and there isn’t an easy way to track the availability of a machine other than staying in the room and waiting for the person to come and finish their laundry. This also applies to students in dorms such as our own university.
Solution: Our solution to this problem would be an app that is connected to sensors on each machine to show if one is available for use. We would also implement a queue system in which you can put yourself in line for use of the washing machine which would make it so you do not have to wait in the room for the machine.
The way the queue works is as follows. People sign up to use a washer or a dryer, but not any specific machine, since we don’t want 5 people in line for washer 1 when washer 2 is completely open. In order to prevent line cutting, only the next person in line is notified when a machine opens. In order to prevent the line getting backed up by someone who isn’t using their laundry privileges, we are implementing two solutions. First, we will add a grace period of 15 minutes so that if you don’t change out your laundry within 15 minutes, the next person in line gains your privileges. Second, if something comes up and you can’t do your laundry right now, we will add an option to leave the queue immediately and allow the next person in line to use the machine.
Subsystem #1: Washing machine/Dryer vibration sensor. This subsystem will use a vibration sensor to track the current status of the washing machine or dryer (in use or not in use). We thought about using a heat sensor, but since not all wash and dry cycles are hot, this wouldn’t always work.
Subsystem #2: Pressure Sensor: Even if a washing machine or dryer is finished, there still may be clothes inside. To make sure that the machine is truly ready for the next user, we are going to use a pressure sensor to check if the clothes are still present or not.
Subsystem #3: Locking mechanism: Once the washing machine is available for the next person to use, there would be a lock on the door which would take in a password or combination that is randomly generated and sent only to the next user to open and use the machine.
Subsystem #4: This subsystem will be in charge of relaying information provided by the washing machine status sensors to an app using bluetooth. An arduino with a Bluetooth communication module can be used for this purpose.
Subsystem #5: The app that will track washing machine status and allow users to sign up for a queue to use the washing machines. A washing machine/dryer is listed as available only if the following two criteria are met. Firstly, the machine must be totally stopped, which would indicate that the washing or drying is done. The app would receive this information from the vibration sensor. Secondly, the machine has to be empty, meaning that the washed/dried clothes have been removed. Our pressure sensor will communicate this information.
Criterion for Success: The system is able to accurately track statuses of washing machines.
System is able to provide status information of washing machines to an app.
Users of the app are able to sign up for a queue to use the washing machines.
The device locks the machine and unlocks once the generated code is entered.